After lengthy discussions in a special closed door session, but part of the county commission meeting, commissioners decided to table the items on the agenda with Recology, Lincoln County’s solid waste collector, until their June 6 meeting.
In making the motion back in public session, landfill committee member Paul Mathews explained that all of the issues to be settled are “still moving parts” as he put it, “and need more time to allow the district attorney and members of the committee to further the negotiations and see if we can’t devise a firm plan by that time.”
The motion was approved by unanimous vote.
In giving his initial brief to the commission board, before the closed door session, Mathews went over the items on the agenda that Recology has indicated their intent to substantially raise the current rates or stop its collection service altogether; that it has not been able to generate sufficient gate fees from out-of-county waste at the Crestline landfill to sufficiently benefit the county; and possible action the board might take to pay for the expenses related to the collection and disposal of solid waste.
Also tabled were items related to possible legal action against Recology and possible approval of a solid waste collection agreement with Western Elite.
Mathews reported Recology had said they plan to stop their collection service as of June 1, but would be willing to continue if the county would agree to an increase in the annual rate to $800,000, or in other words, jumping from $23,000 a month to $50,000, with a new price, perhaps even the same one, being established every month after that. The cost to buy out the Recology landfill would be about $450,000.
Mathews said he and other committee members met last week with Recology, and he said the company was quite adamant that Lincoln County has a financial obligation to them regarding the 49-year lease of the landfill. The lease runs until 2055. He said, “We could not come to a resolution that would allow Recology to exit quietly and not leave the county holding a big bill for the closing costs. We were just at an impasse.”
Mathews reported on a meeting the committee had with Western Elite about hauling the trash starting June 1 at the $23,000 a month rate through the remainder of the year. He said, “The six-month period then gives us an opportunity to discuss and negotiate with them what we want to do on a long term basis.” But even that is not firmly set.
And another problem needs to be worked out. Mathews said, “Even though Western Elite might be willing to haul the trash, the only place to dump it was Recology’s landfill, and they would control the tipping fees.” Recology’s contract with the county states in-county trash can only be dumped at Recology.
A third problem, he noted, “is if the trash is not hauled to the landfill, where does it go for the next six months?” Western Elite vice-president Scott Seastrand has said Western Elite does not really want to haul the trash to Recology’s landfill anyway.
A joint letter sent to the landfill committee by Recology and Western Elite said they are continuing to negotiate, but would not be finished at least until July, and in so doing, Mathews feels the $50,000 payment asked for by Recology will be moved to July 1 as well.