The City of Smithville, since August 2008, has not been paying the county for the disposal of city garbage in the landfill and the county, since March 2009, has not been paying for the treatment of landfill leachate being hauled to the city's waste water treatment plant.
County Mayor Mike Foster, in a telephone interview with WJLE Monday night, said this non-payment agreement was worked out between he and Smithville Mayor Taft Hendrixson months ago. But according to Mayor Hendrixson, there was no such deal. He said the city's refusal to pay is based on the principle that the county should not be charging Smithville a fee to dump city garbage in the county landfill since city residents are already supporting the operation of the landfill as county taxpayers. That, he said, is double taxation. Mayor Hendrixson also questions why Smithville, which hauls its own garbage to the landfill, is expected to pay for disposal when the three other cities, whose garbage is hauled to the landfill by the county, are not required to pay for disposal.
Whatever the arrangement has been between the city and county, at least one Smithville Alderman wants city officials to revisit the issue with County Mayor Foster in a workshop which is expected to be scheduled soon.
Alderman Shawn Jacobs raised the issue during Monday night's city council meeting. "Numerous people have asked me about this. I think we're all aware that the county has been bringing many more tanks of leachate to the landfill to be processed at the city sewer plant. As of right now the city is not being reimbursed for the cost of doing that. That is a cost to ratepayers of the water and sewer department. I know its an issue that a lot of folks have brought to my attention. As a matter of fact, I think even County Mayor Foster has offered to meet in a workshop session with the board to discuss the situation and whether the city is willing to let the county have their leachate treated for free," said Alderman Jacobs.
Mayor Hendrixson, during Monday night's meeting, explained how the leachate issue came to his attention. "When they first got the new cell site over there, Mayor Foster came to me and he said until they got some build up of garbage in there we're going to have to haul out some leachate. So I told him to go ahead and haul some out. It has continued to be an on-going thing. I wasn't aware of that for a long time. But it is. Its an on-going thing and probably will be a forever thing," said Mayor Hendrixson.
"I hear there are hundreds of loads a week going in there," said Alderman Jacobs.
"I think that depends on the weather," replied Mayor Hendrixson.
"I think its something that we need to at least discuss," said Alderman Jacobs." I think we owe it to the ratepayers of the Smithville water system to investigate this and decide what we need to do and to come to some kind of formal agreement because right now we don't have one".
The last payment the county made to the city for leachate treatment was in March, 2009 for February hauls. According to available records, from March 2009 to September 2011, the total amount of money the city could have tried to collect from the county for treatment of landfill leachate comes to $400,110.
The biggest month for leachate from the landfill within the last three years was in May 2009 when 274 loads totaling 1,570,300 gallons were hauled by the county to the city wastewater treatment plant at a cost of $46,920 which has gone unpaid.
This year, the lowest number of monthly leachate hauls through September was in August when 18 hauls were made totaling 81,000 gallons at a cost of $2,340 which has gone unpaid.
The city had been paying the county approximately $50,000 per year for garbage disposal but ceased payments after August 2008. The last payment made in August 2008 was for the prior quarter of April through June 2008. The total amount of money the county could have tried to collect from the city from July, 2008 to September 2011 is more than $150,000, which has gone unpaid.
Foster, during the Monday night telephone interview with WJLE, explained his version of how the arrangement between the county and the city came about. "I guess its been nearly three years ago when we were putting in a new (landfill) cell and we were getting a lot of storm water in there. Its technically called leachate but its basically storm water. Its basically water that runs into the cell and when you have that big of an opening which was like five acres, you're going to get a lot of water. We were getting about 25,000 gallons of water per acre, per inch of rain. It was just a lot of water to haul. When we opened up that new cell we were getting a lot of that (leachate) and we were paying the city for it (to treat it). I think we were paying around $140 per load.. The city was paying about $45,000 or $50,000 (to the county) for hauling their garbage to the landfill. Of course we (county) gave them a better rate than we did everybody else. I think everybody else was paying $35 per ton and they (city) were paying $25 per ton. One day we met with Mayor Taft Hendrixson and worked out an agreement where we would not pay for leachate or storm water treatment. They (city) run it through their (sewer plant) and treat it with some things that kill the bacteria in it and then dump it into the creek. Of course we (county) have to bury their garbage which costs us $35 a ton. Anyway we worked out a two year agreement to where neither the city nor the county would pay anything for that two year period which has just expired. About a month or so ago I called to see about renewing that agreement but that was the last I had heard about it until now," said Foster.
Foster said he welcomes a workshop with the mayor and aldermen to try and resolve this issue.
In May, 2009 city officials contacted Don Darden of the Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS) to give an opinion on the following question:
Is it possible for the county to prevent the City from taking our garbage to the County landfill? We have refused to pay the county anymore for solid waste disposal being that we pick up and take the garbage to the landfill at our expense. We feel that the City residents are being double taxed for county solid waste disposal. Any thoughts on this?
In his response, Darden said "if the county is paying its landfill expense from property taxes
county wide, then I think you are right. I ran into this same situation when I was city administrator in LaFollette. Campbell County used its second half of the sales taxes to pay landfill expenses, and LaFollette had to pay a tipping fee to dump there. If the county is using a
revenue that is not levied against its county residents who live in Smithville, then I think Smithville will have to pay," he said.
Meanwhile, in other business the board adopted on second and final reading following a public hearing proposed ordinance #435. This is an ordinance abandoning the roadway on the southside of the South Mountain Street and Adams Street intersection.
Mayor Hendrixson explained that "its on the south side of the South Mountain Street and Adams Street intersection. Its something that was never built. Its known as the Johnson/Turner addition. It happened in the 1940's but it has never been built.
The proposed ordinance reads as follows: "Whereas the Mayor and Aldermen are aware that the roadway shown on the southside addition of the Johnson/Turner addition dated May 4, 1945 has not been improved nor improved as a roadway since the construction and improvement of Adams Street.
Whereas, no landowner adjoining the roadway shown on the southside of the Johnson/Turner addition dated May 4, 1945 will be land locked by virtue of the abandonment of said roadway.
Whereas the Mayor and Board of Aldermen have concluded that it is in the best interest of the City of Smithville to abandon the roadway shown on the southside of the addition of the Johnson/Turner addition dated May 4, 1945
Now, Therefore be it ordained as follows: Section 1, the City of Smithville does hereby abandon any right, claim, easement, fee, or intent otherwise in the portion of said southside roadway from the South Mountain Street easterly intersection to the present construction of the Adams Street intersection.
Section 2 This ordinance shall take effect upon second and final reading"
The aldermen also voted to accept a bid from Highways Incorporated in the amount of $84.50 per ton for hot mix to do some street paving. It was the lowest of the two bids received. The other bid came from Lo-Jack in the amount of $84.75 per ton.