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Mayor proposes shutting down city's landfill

By Staff
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle Mayor Dwight Tankersley is recommending abandoning the option to purchase land for the expansion of the city's C&D landfill in favor of closing the facility when it is filled to capacity in four to six years.
Tankersley told the City Council Monday the cost of the land and the improvements that would have to be made to meet the requirements of the U.S. Corps of Engineers and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management prompted his recommendation.
Ernie Slaten and Skip Drinkard offered to sell the city 81 acres of undeveloped property adjoining the landfill last month; however, they declined to name a price. Three years ago, the previous administration unsuccessfully pursued the purchase of 68 acres from the same tract for future landfill use. At that time, an appraisal made by the city placed the value of the land at $2,000 an acre.
Tankersley reported he met twice with Slaten since the land was discussed at a Nov. 7 work session.
"The first time we met I was told they would be willing to sell 81 acres adjoining the landfill for $750,000, Tankersley said. "I told him I didn't think buying the land was an option at that price and that I would favor closing the landfill instead. The second time we met, he offered to sell 35 acres for $450,000. I told him I wouldn't recommend buying it.
"Since then I have talked to Jeff Johnson, director of development. There's a stream that divides the property. It would have to be relocated before the landfill could be expanded. We asked our consulting engineer to tell us what it would cost to do that. The figure he came up with is $223,581. After taking these costs under consideration, my recommendation is that we start taking steps to close the landfill."
As a first step in the process, Tankersley said he will recommend the use of landfill be limited to residents and the public works department beginning next fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2006).
In November, the mayor reported the landfill will be filled to capacity in 47 months at the current level of use. Its life could be extended 18 months by eliminating commercial haulers. But by doing that the city would lose approximately $80,000 of its current tipping fee revenue. The landfill generated $183,000 of revenue in 2004-05 while the cost of its operation was about $160,000.
"The landfill has always been a problem," Council President Kenny Thompson said. "I'm in favor of moving on."
Tankersley said residents would have to shoulder the additional cost of hauling trash to the Decatur-Morgan County Landfill at Trinity when the landfill is no longer in use. But he suggested recycling, mulching and composting as ways to extend the life of the landfill and to lessen the amount of waste that would have to be hauled after the landfill is closed.
Drinkard told the council he had the property in question appraised when the city first expressed an interest in buying it and it appraised for $7,100 per acre. "It never has been for sale for $2,000 an acre and it never will be," said.
"This is the cheapest it has ever been offered to the city," he added. "How can you justify spending $350,000 to close the landfill and pass on the cost of hauling trash to Trinity to the residents when you have the option to buy more land and expand the landfill?"
"Why don't you compare the costs and let the taxpayers know what the numbers are before you rule out expansion?" Slaten asked.

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