ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BRENDA CONYERS
Marion County mayors, city attorneys, county attorney and county commissioners met Monday night to discuss the possible purchase of the KC Development transfer station by the Marion County Board of Commissioners.
Hillsboro Mayor Delores Dalke was pleased with the turnout, saying more mayors were present at Monday’s meeting than any other meeting to date.
James Kaup, attorney for the county commissioners, presented a draft of a proposed interlocal agreement for the review and consideration of area mayors.
The discussion began by having commissioners asked why they would be interested in purchasing KC Development?
Commissioner Howard Collett said to purchase the transfer station was one alternative to having it sold to outside sources which might not be in the best interest of the county.
According to Kaup, the proposed agreement allows cities in the county to offer their input on how business is carried out, as opposed to cities receiving a contract from the county with mandatory regulations.
Mayors responded favorably to the opportunity to offer input, but also agreed they needed to take the proposed agreement back to their respective boards for feedback.
Commissioners had hoped responses could be received within 10 days, but several mayors said it that would not be possible.
Peabody Mayor Kevin Ensminger brought up the matter of finances and asked commissioners what the purchase would do to individual rates.
Kaup said cost projections were currently under way, but that according to the proposed agreement, the “aim and goal” of the purchase is to “have a financially self-sufficient transfer station operation with fees and charges being assessed to the various users at a level or levels such that the Transfer Station will be self-sufficient as to all costs of operation,” including payment of the debt incurred by the purchase of the station.
Discussion increased as mayors read through the proposed agreement and discovered that if the transfer station was unable to generate the funds to be self-sufficient, money would be taken from a reserve account-and if there were still “revenue shortfalls,” money would be “funded by the cities on the basis of the same percentage as their usage of the transfer station for the prior year.”
Kaup said he would try to get some figures for the mayors to present to their councils within a week’s time.
Other questions were raised about the method of setting fees.
The agreement said a Solid Waste Rate Committee would be established with one representative from each of the cities involved in the agreement, and five representative from the county.
This committee will make recommendations of fees to the Marion County commissioners, who “shall adopt them by resolution unless the Board makes a finding that it is not reasonable to believe such approved user fees, rates and charges.”
The question was raised regarding rural users, their charges, and if the charges would be included in a mill levy.
Kaup said all of the questions raised were good ones, and these kinds of things would have to be worked out.
Collett, who lives in the county, was asked what was legal for rural residents to do with their trash. He said they currently could hire a trash service, bury it, or burn it.
Several instances were mentioned of households which did not use trash services and dumped trash out in the county, or of other households who used so little trash they put it in a neighbor’s receptacle.
Bob Brookens, attorney for the city of Florence, said he thought it would be good for cities and rural users to pay for the purchase by using either a preferred fee or mil levy.
Brookens said he felt the county would have an obligation to retire the debt, and to have mandatory fees would not only take care of the debt, but also encourage rural residents to use the facility.
Asked about the purchase price, Kaup said no purchase price had been offered to KC Development at this time, and would not until a cost study had been completed.
Asked if all the cities in the
county had to participate in the agreement, Kaup said it would make better business sense having more cities involved than not. But that it was not necessary for all the cities to participate.
The city of Lincolnville currently has access to two services for residents to choose from. Kaup was asked if mandatory requirements would be put into the agreement about use and who would make that decision.
Kaup said such a decision would fall back on the Waste Rate Committee.
Each mayor present was given an opportunity to voice his or her interest, approval or disapproval of the proposed agreement.
All but one of the mayors said they were interested in the idea of an agreement, but did not agree with all the stipulations set forth in the proposed draft.
Marion Mayor Eloise Mueller said she was not in favor of the agreement, and also did not agree with several stipulations, including the proposed length of agreement of seven years.
“I realize these things can be worked out,” Mueller said, “and I will take this back to my commission, they have to make the decision.”
Ensminger asked Kaup what the difference really was between an agreement and a contract.
Kaup said that other than an agreement allowing more input than a contract, there was no difference.
Ensminger said Peabody currently had several options to be considered, but that he would cast his vote as a “maybe.”
Collett said he thought it was the desire of the commission to have a purchase price for the transfer station that would keep fees close to what they are right now and to pay the incurred debt off in 10-15 years.
The question of a landfill was brought up, and several “ayes” were heard from the group.
It was pointed out there were three big concerns regarding landfills, including land contamination, trash blowing out of the area, and having roads torn up with heavy use.
Mayors agreed there were answers to all three of the concerns.
Kaup quickly said he would not allow his clients-county commissioners-to respond to anything about the landfill.
Dalke said she had been attending the mayor/commissioner meetings for the last two years, and every time the landfill issue was brought up, the mayors were united in their desire to consider one.
Referring back to the rural users given the legal right to bury trash, Dalke asked what difference it made “whose aluminum can is in the ditch, theirs or mine?” in the use of a landfill.
She went on to say that according to the census, about 5,700 homes are in the county, with just over 5,000 being occupied.
“Why do 4,000 city residents have to be concerned about the environment and 1,000 rural resident can do what they want?” Dalke asked.
“There are solutions to the three big concerns,” said one mayor. “The taxpayers could benefit greatly, plus it would bring income into the county.”