The Botetourt County Board of Supervisors is getting back into the landfill business.
The supervisors approve a plan during their Tuesday meeting to reopen two cells in the landfill off Catawba Road west of Fincastle in what is essentially an effort to save up enough money from tipping fees to close and cap those two cells by 2025.
At the same time, the supervisors will avoid a June 2019 deadline to pay $5 million to join the Roanoke Valley Resource Authority (RVRA) that is now accepting Botetourt trash as a non-member of that authority.
The decision is based on a study of alternatives the supervisors undertook earlier this year because one of the county landfill cells has to capped by December 31, 2020 under Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) rules.
Capping that cell is projected to cost $2 million.
The study that was presented to the full board by a committee that included Chair Jack Leffel and Supervisor John Williamson III notes that reopening the landfill will also give the supervisors time to research other alternatives for dealing with the county’s trash going forward. The deadline for finding that alternative is January 1, 2025.
The study also directs the county administration to prepare to reopen the landfill this coming spring.
Under the plan, the county is raising the current per ton tipping fee that’s used at the existing Convenience Center at the landfill site from $49 to $53, the same amount that the county’s franchised trash haulers now pay to dump at the regional trash collection facility in Hollins.
Individuals who now use the Convenience Center to dump trash will see rates stay at $5 for a carload and go up from $9 to $10 for a pickup truck load.
Residents and businesses that use the franchised trash haulers won’t be affected by the change, although the supervisors did allow a $1 per month rate increase (from $21 to $22 for residential pickup) when it negotiated new contracts for the haulers in the summer. That rate increase takes affect January 1.
The study was done in conjunction with Lynn Klappich of Draper Allen Associates and county staff that included County Engineer Kevin Shearer, Division of Solid Waste Manager Greg Hannah and Deputy County Administrator David Moorman. It projects the county could actually net $30,000 over the next seven years by reopening the landfill and using tipping fees to pay for operations and saving to cap the two cells.
The study recommends applying with DEQ to put a temporary cap on Cell 519, as it is identified in the study, by 2020 and to put permanent caps on that cell and Cell 582 by 2025, reducing the cost of capping both cells.
The study says the two cells have a capacity of 90,000 tons that should provide enough space for the county’s trash for five to seven years. Based on projected use, the study suggests the landfill should be operational for seven years.
The county decided in 2009 to stop using the landfill and instead opened the Convenience Center and contracted with the City of Salem to have county haulers start taking trash to the Salem Transfer Station that then shipped the trash to an Amelia County landfill.
Last year, Salem joined the RVRA and Botetourt trash started going to the authority’s collection center and then was taken to the Smith Gap landfill.
Under the terms of the county’s existing contract with Salem, the county could continue tipping at the RVRA facility until June 30, 2019.
To continue after that, the county would have to join the RVRA at a buy-in cost of $5 million. The RVRA will not negotiate a term contract similar to the one the county had with Salem.
The study says having several years to find a long-term solution for dealing with county trash should include investigating possible public, private and public/private partnership options.
For Williamson, it’s a bit of déjà vu. He was involved with expanding the landfill when he was county administrator in the late 1980s and early 1990s. At the time, the county hoped the landfill would provide a place for county trash for as long as 50 years, but regulatory changes pretty much forced the county to dump that as a long-range option.