Sunday, March 2, 2014

City's Landfill

Presentation to Council 2/20/14
Last year I gave a similar presentation to council and considering the renewed interest in the subject, it's time to update the information. New data from the Ohio EPA, the city auditor and the county solid waste district change some of the previous assumptions.

Question: Do we really need near or mid term changes in our landfill operations?

Residential pickups, including yard waste, limbs and large items are being done in a timely manner and at a reasonable cost to the residents. I suspect that the complaint rate is pretty low.
Our curbside recycling program, costs have been reduced and participation is increasing.

The landfill financial situation is looking pretty good. The sanitation department had a $600,000 unencumbered carry over reserve in 2012. The carry over to 2014 is down only 1%. Which leaves sufficient funds for unexpected expenses.
Thanks to the solid waste committee's work to bring our tipping fees up to date we appear to have rates about right. Compared to the 1% decline in the carry over we saved 13% of valuable airspace volume in 2013. At current daily tipping rates. That 13% translates into six months extension of present cell life.

According to the Ohio EPA the present landfill airspace capacity would support more
than four years of tipping at current rates of fill.

In hindsight maybe we could have waited another two years before adding the new capacity. That would have allowed the current construction bond balance of $200,000 to be paid in full before incurring new debt.

The idea of bringing in an outside manager, for a system that is working for the city’s residents at the present time, needs to be examined.
At present, landfill operations are on a sound financial footing. Expenses and revenues are in balance with a substantial carry over to pay unexpected expenses. No tax money is being used for operations of the department. Because the landfill is a public facility and has a proprietary financial structure that, according to the Ohio Revised Code, is to be a break-even operation. Money generated by the facility must be spent on the facility. Looking at recent fee-volume history it’s difficult to see any realistic way to increase revenue without increasing commercial dumping significantly. Any such effort, that would include increased truck traffic on Nelson Ave., would meet stiff political resistance from residential neighbors.

In any event, the soon to be created vertical expansion will, according to the Ohio EPA, allow around 15 more years of operation at 2013 tipping rates. If a major landfill decision decision needs to be made in ten years or so we have plenty of time to consider further actions.

In the meantime I would encourage the city to do a serious cost benefit analysis of adding a roll off capability. Why let Rumpke make a profit from servicing our local commercial entities such as Lowes. I was informed that the sanitation department is looking into that option.
A renewed effort should be undertaken to reduce the dumping of recyclable cardboard into the landfill. It costs the smaller commercial businesses money and fills up valuable airspace
At present and in the mid term the landfill capacity is sufficient, the sanitation fund is in balance, and the service to the residents is good.

If it ain't broke let’s not try to fix it.

The conclusions made in this presentation are my own and are open to examination.
Paul Hunter

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