The Washington County Commission on Monday approved a $5.9 million, 10-year agreement with Waste Management to send its solid waste to Johnson City-owned Iris Glen Environmental Landfill.
The agreement, when completed, will be the first between the two entities, and it is expected to save the county more than $2 million in that time, or about $213,000 a year.
“One benefit is we will limit our fuel costs by going to the closest landfill,” County Mayor Dan Eldridge said. “It just turns out Waste Management operates Iris Glen and they also came in with the low bid. We would like the commission to give this a thumb’s up so we can get locked in.”
Willie Shrewsbury, the county’s purchasing agent, will now get to work on finalizing a contract with the company.
The county received bids from Advanced Disposal Services, which opened a new landfill in Blountville last year and serves Kingsport; Republic Services, which operates Carter Valley Landfill in Hawkins County; and Waste Management, which came in at a $26.65 per-ton cost. That is $15.85 less per ton than the county has been paying.
Solid Waste Department Director Charlie Baines said a company traditionally will raise their rates by at least 1 percent each year, but with the new agreement, they can’t raise rates.
The county will continue to maintain its five convenience centers and continue to use county vehicles to transport the waste from the centers to Iris Glen. Transportation costs have been calculated at $2.25 a mile, rising 3 percent a year.
The county has spent an average of about $627,000 a year to haul waste from its convenience centers to Iris Glen. That figure is based on averages from the past two years and includes number of trips, transportation costs, disposal costs and the tipping fee.
During the middle of its meeting Monday, Commissioner Roger Nave read aloud a prepared statement claiming Eldridge had been in Nashville the past few weeks lobbying against certain annexation bills favored by a majority of commissioners.
He specifically pointed out an April 6 story in the Johnson City Press in which he and Ferguson said made it appear as though Eldridge was representing Washington County government.
“It’s the way it reads,” Ferguson said.
Sixteen days have passed since publication, and neither Nave nor Ferguson have contacted the Press with questions about the article during that time.
“I did not travel to Nashville to lobby, I traveled to Nashville as a representative of the Washington County Economic Development Council. I found not one but eight annexation bills, and I was concerned about a ‘one size fits all’ solution,” Eldridge said.
He was referring to a Senate bill that would have place a two-year moratorium on city-initiated annexations. A bill recently cleared both the House and the Senate that places a one-year moratorium on these types of annexation.
“Your’e not telling the truth,” Nave told Eldridge.
“Well, would you care to be a little more specific?” Eldridge asked.
“That’s all I have to say,” Nave said.
In the article, Eldridge is cited as suggesting to legislators that if the moratorium could not be removed from the bill that a caveat be inserted that would allow cities and counties to have the option of negotiating remedies themselves.