First Posted: 3/20/2009
To the Editor,
Even though I did not receive one of the personal invitations in the mail from Waste Industries, I attended the public meeting to find out more about how Waste Industries would benefit Surry County should it manage our landfill. Currently the county landfill disposes of 30 tons of waste per day. Waste Management plans on disposing of 1500 tons of waste per day. Fifty times the amount of waste per day that currently goes into our landfill. Currently the landfill should last roughly 100 years and under Waste Management it will last about 30 years. What will Surry County use for a landfill then? Waste Management states that it will pay $500,000 per year in estimated host fees. According to their representative this would amount to 6%-7% of their annual income from the landfill. Waste Management would receive over $7,000,000 in fees from managing the Surry County landfill. They also stated that the residents would have a 24% reduction in disposal cost but could not explain how I would receive that reduction. Currently I pay a landfill fee on my property tax for waste disposal. In exchange for this, I pull into the landfill, put my recyclables where they belong, throw my waste into a bin, and drive away. I find this to be a great deal and very convenient. When I asked the Waste Management representative about the fee on my property tax, he stated that was up to the Surry County Commissioners.
Every individual pays a tire disposal fee when they purchase tires. In 2007 the N.C. Department of Revenue collected $9,238,133 and this money was returned to North Carolina Counties. Also, when you purchase a stove, refrigerator, air conditioner, or other major appliance you are charged a $3.00 White Goods Fee. Seventy-two percent of the $3.00 or $2.16 is returned to North Carolina counties. The representative from Waste Management stated that Waste Management would expect Surry County to turn over this money to them. The Surry County Commissioners would have to replace these funds in their budget from some other source.
There is the issue of using methane to generate electricity and carbon credits. Both of these are additional ways that income can be generated from the landfill. Surry County could decide to do either one of these.
There is also the issue of added noise from the landfill. The representative from Waste Industries stated that they would probably run the landfill for 12 hours a day. Currently the landfill starts making noise about 7 am and usually stops around 3 pm. I am sure the local citizens would not appreciate the added noise.
Waste Industries has pledged $5.5 million up-front payment. They will also purchase the landfill equipment and take over all cost of new cell construction and closure. This is a great deal for Waste Industries. Currently there is a moratorium on landfill construction and Waste Industries would get control of a landfill without having to go through the permitting process, located suitable land, and have access to a major highway system.
The landfill is worth a great deal more to the future of Surry County. The citizens of Surry County will be responsible for the landfill when the contract is over. The landfill will be closed but not gone. I can’t help but picture the commercial with the plastic bottle and the words forever in a landfill. The Surry County landfill will never go away and it will forever be the responsibility of the citizens of Surry County. Perhaps one of the representatives of Waste Management summed it up best We are in the business to make money.