By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
With a more positive agenda, the Tucker County Solid Waste Authority (SWA) held their monthly meeting via teleconference. Board members present were Executive Director of the Solid Waste Management Board and acting chair Mark Holstein, James “Jim” Alford, Diane Hinkle, and Dennis Filler. Those absent were Fred Davis and Chris Lowther.
The minutes from April 20 were approved with a motion by Filler and a second by Alford before moving into board reports. Office Manager Carol Helmick began with the tonnage report, stating, “The tonnage for the month of April was 5,167.89, the tonnage for the year is 53,143.36, so compared to this time last year, we are down 745.01 tons.” During the April free day, 30.71 tons of trash was taken in over the course of 187 customers, with a free day annual tonnage of 233.19 and a total of 1,763 customers. The estimated tonnage for the year, that which was used in the rate case, was 67,000, which Helmick said, “Based on our 10 month tonnage right now, it looks like it’s going to be about 63,772, which is going to be 3,288 below the estimated tonnage.”
Helmick continued with the leachate report, stating, “In the month of April, we hauled out 618,376 gallons, total for the fiscal year so far is 5,663,121 gallons, which is actually a decrease of 4,018,211.” In April, 36 loads of leachate were hauled to Moorefield, W.Va. and 66 to Westernport, Md.
The accounts receivable report followed providing an itemized statement of all accounts paying into the landfill. “For the month of April, we have $254,113.45 to collect on the receivables,” began Helmick, which is a decrease from last month. The total of past due accounts is $61,961.32, of which $53,000 is due from Preston Sanitation. Late fees have been sent to five individuals, two of those have already paid in full. One individual was sent a letter stating that failure of payment would result in the account being turned over to collections.
Accounts payable for April amounted to $18,303.01, which is a decrease of $43,746 from March. “The reason for the decrease is because we had less repairs, less fuel, and we’ve been paying on our accounts payable over 90 days,” explained Helmick. Currently the landfill has two accounts that are over 90 days, Cleveland Brothers Equipment for $88,510.23 and Radabaugh Trucking, Inc. for $11,700. Helmick announced to the board that $5,000 was just sent to Cleveland Brothers and $3,000 to Radabaugh to get these accounts paid down.
“On the income statement, the revenue for the month of April was $200,223.84, and our operating income was $30,125.19, which was an increase from last year by $19,420.26,” Helmick continued. The reason for this increase is due to the expenditures being down compared to last year. “The landfill administrative expenditures were $95,167.94 for the month,” she added.
Referring to the balance sheet, the operating account was $37.943.69 where Helmick explained the line item listed as internal escrow account of $176,064.43 was what was released by the Public Service Commission (PSC) from the construction and equipment escrow account to assist the landfill’s financial issues. It has been withdrawn from Miners and Merchants Bank and deposited into its own account at Grant County Bank. “We’re expecting $254,113.45 to be collected from the month of April in receivables,” she continued. The closure/post closure escrow account that has been requested to gain access to currently has $2,438,137.54, where $30,852.30 was recently paid into this account.
Deposits and billing sheets, the check register, and cardholder activity records were provided to the board for review. Helmick announced that the top 10 customers stayed the same except for Department of Highways District Five moved onto the list due to hauling in a demolished house from Holly Meadows, which will change once complete.
Holstine took over for the director’s report by stating, “One of the best things so far is the PSC staff has approved the rate case, we’re still waiting on the order, and another very positive action has then of course granted us access to the construction escrow money, which we have done.” Part of the rate case stipulations included to cease funding of the construction escrow account for six months to all for extra revenue allowing for needed repairs to be made around the facility during the summer months. “They did grant that and the commission has issued that order already, so we’re already under the six month refrain from funding that construction escrow account, which is wonderful news,” said Holstine.
He reiterated Helmick’s statement relating to the decrease in expenses due to less repairs being made, but those are being done now and moving forward which will reflect in the financial statements. “We’ve dropped the hydraulic system in the compactor this month, it is currently being repaired,” he stated with hopes of being complete in the coming days. Unfortunately, the Komatsu excavator went down yesterday, which Holstine could not provide an estimate on repairs at this time, and a radiator hose on a tractor blew prior to the meeting as well. “It’s not all doom and gloom,” said Holstine, “we do have some additional revenue due to the fact that we’re not having to fund that construction escrow but it’s not getting put to the use that I’d like to see it get put to.”
It has come up over the course of several meetings, both with the new board as well as the former, the issue of wastewater treatment and the possibility of performing a pretreatment on site that may allow for a local treatment facility to take the leachate. “Pretreatment was something that I never quite understood why it wasn’t being done here,” said Holstine. “Late last week I discovered there is a pretreatment system installed at the facility but it has been disassembled,” he continued. “There was an aeration system on the small pond which is the pond above the shop, it quit working some time ago and was never repaired,” he said. Two brand new blowers were discovered in the truck loading building at the larger leachate pond as well. It is unknown what lead to the disconnection of the equipment at this time, though it is believed to have been installed in 2010.
Holstine continued, “I’m sure you remember me making comment that we don’t have a flow gauge on our leachate line anywhere, but yes we do.” He said, “There’s one on the line that goes to the trucks out of the big ponds, it is an electronic digital gauge, however it’s never been wired.” “So there exists a possibility, if we can get some extra funds or we get the order to access the $2.2 million in the closure account that I will work to get some pretreatment going on that big pond via aeration,” he explained. Testing would have to be done to ensure effectiveness, but there is a probability the aeration would help the ammonia and Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) of the pond. “If we get a good aeration system going in that pond, ammonia is kind of critical because total ammonia, or TKN, is one of the constituents that Thomas was having trouble meeting on their treatment facility,” Holstine explained. “So if there was some way we could lower the load here before we took it anywhere, it would help any treatment system at all for us to be able to lower those constituents,” he said.
An engineer has looked at the system along with Holstine, who is also an engineer, and it was confirmed the system could be re-assembled. The uncertainty lies with what is within the pond and the condition of that equipment that has been inactive for a decade. It’s expected to be plugged up, though this may be able to be dislodged when turned out and blown through the system. “Depending on our finances, I may not even attempt it,” Holstine stated. “I may just cut off what’s out there and then re-plumb aerators and drop them in the pond so we know exactly what we have, or we can fountain it,” he added. He explained the benefit of the aerator over the pond as it helps churn the water from the bottom versus the top layers; however, this will depend upon temperature, finances, and the status of what is in the pond.
Filler asked if there was an estimated timeframe that the investment into an aeration system would be recuperated. Holstine said he can, however that will be dependent upon the effectiveness of the system and how much work is going to be required. However, he did state that, “The return on the investment would be immense, it wouldn’t even be a study worth doing if I knew I could get the TKN down to a level that Thomas could effectively treat because our haul would be five miles instead of what it is now.” He continued, “I need someone on that other end to tell me what I need to do performance wise and how much of that TKN I need to get down before they can handle it and I don’t know if there’s anybody on that other end that can give me that answer.” Filler expressed concern given the financial situation the landfill is in at the present time, which Holstine agreed that it wouldn’t be a project they could begin on immediately, but definitely in the future. Accountant Ray Keller also expressed concern for the future of the Westernport facility, which would mean the landfill would need another hauling option in that instance.
Referring to the public complaints, the recent wind blowing from the East has brought some litter from the landfill down towards the office which is being addressed. Fortunately, the odor hasn’t seemed to be a problem even with the direction of the wind, so it is believed that issue has been mostly addressed for now until future disturbances take place. “We will just try to be careful when and how we do it so it’s not as bad as before,” Holstine assured.
New business consisted of a request by Holstine to begin the process to bid out the earth work to prepare for the construction of the new cell pending the access to the closure/post closure escrow account. Alford made the motion to move forward pending access to funds with Filler making a second and all in agreement. Alford asked if a new liner was going to be needed which Holstine confirmed, though the contractor agreed to honor the bid from three years ago to assist in the cost.
The new version of the employee handbook was given to the board members and reviewed which lead to a lengthy discussion over concerns with some of the wording in the handbook. These issues will be addressed and another edition will be provided to the board. The goal is for the revisions to be made in time for review to approve at the June meeting.
The only agenda item under unfinished business was that of the PSC investigation, which Holstine had no new information to report. The next meeting of the Tucker County SWA will be on Tuesday, June 23 at 3 p.m. via teleconference until further notice.