Landfill nears capacity, closing possible

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By Jamie Baker-Nantz

Is Grant County’s landfill closing?

Depends on whom you ask.

Republic Services, the landfill’s owner, announced on Monday they would not continue expansion efforts at the Williamstown site. Without an expansion, the landfill will reach capacity soon and be forced to close.

Grant County officials say the landfill’s owners have continued to stall negotiations on a county host agreement and are trying to scare the public.

“This was a business decision and it was not an easy one,” said John Lamanna, area president of Republic Services. “We have worked in good faith with the county, investing a great deal of time, effort and money for nearly seven years. It seems every time we had another meeting, we were met with another demand. The company cannot continue to operate in this climate of uncertainty and believes this project is no longer attainable.”

Grant County Judge-Executive Darrell Link said Republic’s decision to discontinue the expansion may be a negotiating tactic.

“We received a letter from them and will respond to it because we want to set the record straight,” Link said.

Republic and the county’s solid waste board reached an agreement in 2004, but terminated it in 2006. Both sides have been bickering back and forth ever since.

The major sticking point is that Republic wants the county to sign a 20-year host agreement with a 40-year capacity at the site.

The solid waste board says if Republic wants a 40-year capacity, then it must sign a 40-year host agreement.

Under Kentucky law, Grant County’s solid waste management district can negotiate a contract longer than 20 years, which is the maximum time the law allows governments to enter into contracts other than ones for solid waste.

“I can’t sit back and allow them 40 years of capacity and only protect the county for 20 years,” said Grant County Solid Waste Coordinator Bryan Miles.

Miles pointed out that once the contract expired, Republic could opt not to pay the county host fees, which could amount to $1 million per year after Republic obtains the necessary permits and expands the landfill.

“If we signed that contract, then there’s no requirement for them to provide a benefit to county residents,” Miles said.

The solid waste board met with Link and County Attorney Joe Taylor on July 1 to draft a response to the letter they received from Republic.

Republic said 90 percent of the landfill has already been filled. Without the expansion, Grant County residents would have to pay to take trash elsewhere. Republic allows county residents to bring one pickup truck of trash to the landfill daily for free and also operates a free recycling center.

Grant County has mandatory garbage collection for all residents and has a contract with CSI for collection through Jan. 30, 2011.

“I’m sorry that Republic feels this way,” Miles said. “We’re (the solid waste board) still open to negotiate and invite them to the table at any time.”

(See www.grantky.com for an update on this story and next week’s Grant County News for more information.)