|Written by Greg Ruland|
|Saturday, 14 January 2012 21:00|
Yavapai County District 1 Supervisor Carol Springer met twice with representatives of Waste Management before she cast a vote in favor of the national trash hauler’s plan to expand Grey Wolf Landfill.
Springer said she met with the regional manager, landfill director and attorney for Waste Management on May 17. On July 27, she met a second time with Waste Management lawyer Mike Withee.
District 2 Supervisor Tom Thurman also met with Waste Management representatives on two separate occasions, according to County Administrator David Hunt. Thurman was unavailable for comment as of press time.
Waste Management requested both meetings. The purpose of the meetings was to educate Springer about falling revenues at the landfill. Springer said Waste Management called the second meeting because company representatives wanted to be sure she understood their position.
“I think they were a little nervous about the vote,” Springer said.
Waste Management representatives told Springer competitors in Yavapai County are refusing to pay fees charged by Waste Management to dump at the landfill. Instead, local trash haulers are taking their loads to Phoenix, where they can dump more cheaply.
Waste Management representatives told Springer the rates they charged for dumping at the landfill were as low as the company could afford.
Currently, Waste Management hauls about 200 tons of waste to its landfill in Dewey-Humboldt at $38.50 a ton, District 3 Supervisor Chip Davis said.
“They told me their revenues are down and they needed to figure out some way to increase their revenues,” Springer said.
While not saying so outright, Waste Management implied it could be forced to close the landfill down unless revenues come up, she said.
“We have been extremely interested in making sure they stayed viable and that they stayed in that location,” because it is too expensive for the county to operate its own landfill. The county does not want to go back to operating its own landfill, she said.
Supervisors voted 2-1 in favor of the landfill receiving trash trucked from areas outside Yavapai County. The vote also allows Waste Management to expand the size of the landfill by 10 percent to accommodate the added waste. The vote cancels a provision in the county’s existing agreement with Waste Management, which specifically forbids the practice.
Springer and Thurman voted in favor of the expansion. Davis voted against.
Davis questioned the wisdom of hauling more trash from outside the county to make up the difference, considering the intent of the last amendment to Waste Management’s use permit was to extend Grey Wolf’s life. More trash would tend to shorten its life, he said.
He also questioned why it was Yavapai County’s responsibility to prop up Waste Management’s profits just because it is facing tough competition from local haulers that are undercutting Waste Management’s price for services
Davis said he was skeptical that Waste Management would be able to track the amount of trash it hauls to ensure the expansion does not exceed the 10 percent increase allowed by the amendment.
“Historically, when Yavapai County paid someone to run the landfill, the county generated $200,000 over and above its operating expenses even though it charged rates less than half of what Waste Management is charging now,” Davis said.
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