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Carter Landfill operations expanding without breaking the budget

John Thompson • Apr 1, 2019 at 10:19 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Carter County Landfill Manager Benny Lyons is often given credit for operating efficiently on limited resources, but the humble landfill has grown into a million dollar operation.

The proposed total operations and maintenance budget for the landfill for fiscal year 2019-2020 is 1,081,555.57. That number was revealed Monday in meetings with the County Commission’s Landfill Committee and the Budget Committee.

Since this budget is funded by various landfill moneymaking operations, like tipping fees at the transfer household waste transfer station, recycling sales, dumpster rentals and other services, it means that even though the budget is going up next year, it is in anticipation of increased revenue, not increases in taxes.

There is tax money being invested in the landfill next year, but that money is from state grants, not local property taxes. That includes a grant from this year that will be used to rebuild the Roan Mountain Convenience Station. Lyons said every effort will be made to keep the recycling center open during the renovations. He said the plans are to repeat the efficient convenience station built a few years ago in Little Milligan.

To make sure as much of the grant money goes to the project as possible, construction will be accomplished by the landfill’s own heavy equipment, with possible help from the Carter County Highway Department.

The Carter County Education Department also will help keep costs down. Teacher Daniel Arnett’s architecture and engineering students at Hampton High School are designing the new convenience station. Lyons is confident of the students’ abilities. In the last three years Arnett’s students have won 37 state championships in technical, architecture and engineering competition at the high school level.

When finished, that should mean more revenue than ever coming in from Roan Mountain. Lyons has also entered recycling agreements that will bring in more revenue to the county. That includes an agreement to take all recycling collected in Johnson County. In exchange for transporting the recyclables to Carter County, the entire value of the recyclables will go to Carter County. Lyons said because of the highly unpredictable price for recycling items, that could mean a tidy profit, or a big loss..

Lyons worked out another deal with local newspaper Elizabethton Star, taking its recycled paper. He said his only investment was two trailers that cost a total of $3,700. He said his first shipment of paper from the deal brought in 28,000 pounds, which sold for $1,300, so he expects to get his investment back soon.

Not all of Lyons deals have worked out. He had briefly negotiated with the city of Johnson City to take its recycling, but an agreement could not be reached.

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