Carter County Landfill may seek state help to collect trash

John Thompson • Oct 5, 2013 at 9:45 PM

ELIZABETHTON — The Carter County Commission’s Landfill Committee is exploring whether to request a private act of the state legislature that would allow the county to require all haulers of solid waste generated in the county to go through the landfill’s transfer station.

In an effort to generate more revenue for the county’s transfer station at the landfill, the committee explored not only ways to capture all the county business, but also the possibility of entering into contracts to handle the solid waste from the city of Elizabethton and Unicoi County.

The committee also heard a report from Landfill Manager Benny Lyons about a recent burglary of the landfill office in which a safe containing more than $1,000 in cash was reported stolen.

On the matter of routing all the county’s solid waste through the transfer station, the committee heard from Kim Raia, a consultant from the University of Tennessee’s County Technical Assistance Service. She said it is known in the business as “flow control.” Raia said the procedure has “a contentious history,” and told the committee about some of the cases in courts.

Raia said the Supreme Court in a 1984 case ruled on a law consolidating solid-waste hauling to a single private company. The court said it was a violation of interstate commerce. In a 2002 case in which a law consolidated the hauling into a government entity, the Supreme Court “put the burden back on the hauler.”

Raia also discussed a proposed Jefferson County resolution and an enacted version in Sevier County.

The committee voted to defer a decision on the matter until members had a chance to study the documents Raia provided. John Lewis and Charles Von Cannon voted against the motion.

Lewis said he felt “it is not right. They are in business to make money. It is not right to force them to take garbage to our landfill.”

Committee Chairman Joel Street said it was an effort to make sure the landfill could operate on the revenue it generated and not rely on tax dollars. The dynamics of the business has changed since a new landfill was created in Blountville. He said that resulted in the loss of the county’s biggest customer, Blue Ridge Trash, because it could get a better rate from Blountville.

Street told the committee there could be other sources of new business coming from the city of Elizabethton. The solid waste contracts for both Elizabethton and Unicoi County expire next year and Lyons has already been in talks with Unicoi County.

Lyons also reported to the committee about a burglary at the landfill Sept. 25 in which the office door had been kicked in and a large safe was stolen. He said the safe contained $1,305 in cash, two checks, all the titles for the landfill’s trucks and four credit cards.

He said the money in the safe was the “startup money” for the day. A deposit of $9,677 had been made the night before the burglary.

Lewis said the landfill at Elk Mills had previously been hit by burglars and suggested the “startup money” should be taken home by the manager. He was told the county auditors would object to employees taking county money to their homes.

Lyons reported that the new conveyor system at the recycling center is operational.

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