By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Tucker County Solid Authority meeting with all members present in either person or via phone. Acting Chair Mark Holstine called the meeting to order followed by the approval of the minutes from January 21 with no discussion.
Board Reports followed starting with Carol Helmick, Office Manager, reporting 4,961.28 tons, which is an increase of 481 tons from last February, though down 710 ton from last month. Helmick was also asked to report on the construction debris after discussion of the reduced CD rate at the last meeting. She stated, “The construction debris tonnage for the year 2019 was 7,051.42.” This was taken in at a CD rate of $43, totaling $303,211.06. If the regular rate of $47.50 would have been charged since it is being disposed of in the same matter, the revenue would have increased to $334,922.45. “So with doing the construction debris rate, we lost $31,731.39 last year alone,” Helmick concluded. Board member Diane Hinkle asked if that loss has been consistent over the last several years, with Hemick responding that it was probably similar each year since that rate has been in effect. Dennis Filler, board member, asked who set the fee at $43 for construction debris, knowing the state set the $47.50 for municipal waste. He was informed the previous board was responsible for setting the other rate, though it was never approved by the PSC.
Holstine reiterated from last meeting that, “Normally when you have a C and D rate, you have a C and D cell, which does not cost nearly as much to design and build as a regular municipal solid waste (MSW) cell.” He stated that even though a former Solid Waste Authority (SWA) decided to set a reduced C and D rate, the Tucker County Landfill does not possess a specified cell for this classification of waste which has resulted in depositing that waste in an MSW cell. The MSW cells are constructed with an expensive design and liner which has more stringent requirements with cheaper rated debris at an unapproved rate. “So in reality, you violated your tariff over time and we feel, at least Ray and I feel, that you shouldn’t be charging the C and D rate period,” stated Holstine. Filler asked why the landfill is still participating in this reduced rate with Holstine explaining before bringing it before the board as a motion; they were waiting for the new board to become familiar with the situation of the landfill. Hinkle asked if there were special requirements needed to notify the public before potentially omitting the C and D rate. “It’s just a board action,” stated Holstine.
The leachate report followed with Helmick saying, “We have an increase of 180,198 gallon from last December, a decrease 215,276 from last January, and a decrease in the year of 2,773,216 gallons.” With the recent precipitation, the landfill staff has noticed an increase in leachate. With pumping seven days a week, we are expecting an increase to show in the next meeting.
Helmick continued with board reports stating that accounts receivable have came in at approximately fifty percent, stating, “That’s outstanding for January.” Commissioner and board member Fred Davis asked for the status of the Preston Sanitation account, with Helmick stating she has been receiving payments. The board reviewed the accounts payable noting significant progress being made with payments along with the income statement. Once all expenditures and payments were configured, it was reported $17,735 in the black for the month.
Both escrow accounts were also evaluated pertaining to their current balances and payments going into each. The balance for the construction escrow is $151, 341, and the closure/post closure escrow account balance is $2.3 million, which is held by the state. Credit card statements and matching invoices were provided to the board as they are converting to a P-Card through the state. Helmick also provided the balance sheets, deposits and billings, along with the check register. “We actually have an increase of $58,992.63 in the checking from last month,” she noted.
Filler asked for a price list pertaining to tires which he was directed to, showing regular tire prices at $2, tires on a rim at $2.50, and oversized and truck tires ranging from $10 to $15. “And what does it cost us to dispose of those tires,” asked Filler. “It’s $500 to have them hauled out of here on the trailer, then they go to Weston to tire and rubber, and then it depends on the weight of the loads,” Helmick explained. Filler is hoping to come to a determination of how much a tire costs the landfill to dispose of versus how much it makes to determine the feasibility of this program and the current prices. It was known that year to date, the total expenses for tire disposals is around $28,710, and tire revenue for the same time frame is $1,730. “That’s a big loss for us,” proclaimed Davis. “I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be good,” added Filler. Plans are in place to bring additional trailers in especially for free day. WVDEP REAP will provide trailers to collect the free day tires and pay for the disposal of those. Holstine feels that, with the majority of tires coming into the landfill being during free days, this will cut disposal costs tremendously.
The director’s report followed, with Holstine stating an individual is no longer employed by the SWA and any further information would require an executive session. A motion was made by Hinkle with a second by Filler therefore the board went into executive session to discuss the matter. Upon returning to regular session, Holstine announced no action was taken.
Holstine continued by informing the board that the order has been received along with the penalty from the DEP relating to items noticed back in September of 2018. “You won’t be happy to hear that the total penalty in order is about $126, 000,” he stated. This figure will have to be negotiated with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). An administrative meeting has been scheduled with the DEP on March 17 at 1 p.m. “We will seek to negotiate that penalty down if not away all together,” he added.
He then asked Ray Keller to update the board on the happenings on site. Keller stated that “baby steps” are being taken to address issues and to clean up the landfill, a lot of which relate to some of the violations with the DEP. “It’s just taking time, money, and of course the equipment. Right now we’ve got the excavator down for repairs and the D6 (dozer) is down for something to do with probably a computer system,” said Keller. Due to the equipment issues, daily cover is a challenge, though Keller has spoken with the inspector and made him aware of the situation.
“We’re getting the leachate and stuff up there under control,” Keller continued. “We have a plan as soon as we get the equipment back up we’re going to execute that plan to get rid of that leachate up on top.” Keller is hoping the excavator will be operable by the end of next week. The dozer isn’t expected to be for an estimated three weeks. Continuing with equipment updates, Keller said, “One of the compacters is subpar right now, we have one that is operating fairly well. I am also in the process of trying to get another compactor from another authority right now.” The one he is hopeful for is smaller which will benefit the landfill, and can potentially be obtained through a lease/purchase agreement for approximately $50,000, which Keller felt was a great deal since these units can run over $200,000.
The leachate ponds are flowing better since last meeting with each pond around three feet of freeboard with the desire to go lower before the contractor returns. Preventative maintenance has been a regular routine lately at the landfill that has started to show pay off in the bank ledgers.
Holstine went into new business with the line item of attorney general appointment. “As part of this investigation matter with the PSC, there has been a request by PSC to respond to their initial petition and we may have sent out about 19 interrogatories that they want answered in a certain amount of time,” he began. At the last meeting, it was discussed to allow attorney Kelley Goes to respond to these, however, as they came out it became evident that more was needed. The SWA has secured an attorney out of the Attorney General’s Office to represent them in the matter to work alongside Goes. Holstine noted the need for separate council became evident to properly represent SWA. “Miners and Merchants is also a party to this, they have the same interrogatory that we have to answer,” he continued. The attorney’s name is John Grey and the pertinent information needed for him to properly respond has been compiled. “It is fairly extensive,” Holstine added, “they’re asking for records that go way back prior to 2010 I believe.”
This item rolled into the first item in unfinished business being the PSC investigation. Holstine stated that Grey has yet to see the compilation of documents he must review in order to respond to the interrogatories, though Holstine noted it is an extensive stack of information. He assured the board they will be kept up to date with the status of the investigation and be made aware of any and all happenings.
Revisiting the C and D rate under unfinished business, Holstine stated, “If it’s something that we feel that we want to attack currently, then I would entertain a motion to do away with the self inflicted C and D rate and charge all waste at the municipal solid waste rate at the scale house.” Filler asked, “So if we do this, what’s your prognosis on a fall out?” Holstine felt he hadn’t spent enough time in the community yet to gage how this may affect locals, though he said, “It’s not a make or break issue, but I think it is an issue that we have to resolve because we’re basically violating our tariff.” He did feel that if some contractors were utilizing this rate as a reason to haul into the landfill, it may result more burning of the debris, however he added, “I’m going to leave that up to you all, you all have a better feel for that and that community by far than I do.”
“I make a motion that we do away with the C and D rate and comply with our tariff,” stated Filler with a second by board member Chris Lowther. Brief discussion commenced with asking Helmick if any calls have came in recently asking for the C and D rate due to a potential job bid, though she stated it had been quite a while since she had received any requests pertaining to that service. Holstine asked for all those in favor of eliminating the C and D rate with a unanimous response of aye with the exception of board member James Alford who was present via phone and lost service. However, a quorum was present and this motion will go into effect immediately.
Visitors to the meeting included Commissioner Lowell Moore who did not wish to speak nor did guest Seth Hornick. The last item of business was to schedule the next meeting which is slated for Friday, March 27 at 3 p.m. at the Tucker County Landfill Office situated behind the scale house.