Commissioners accept role as payment agency

The Marion County Commission Monday acknowledged responsibility to act as the final payment agency for trash transfer station costs for all solid waste collected in the county to meet the Oct. 1 expiration of city contract extensions with KC Development which operates the station in Marion.

The decision appeared to mark a new beginning in negotiations with KC Development owners Theo Bond and Rex Savage after weeks of discussions through attorneys.

A long, involved discussion on waste disposal that was supposed to end the commission meeting at noon instead extended through an all-afternoon recess to when County Attorney Susan Robson could attend that night.

The end result was the arrangement for a meeting Tuesday of Robson with Bond and Savage to work out details and language on an agreement on how payments will be made until the end of the year.

After that it appeared the county will have to work out how to amend its budget for waste transfer station payments in 2002 and beyond to honor the 10-year state sanctioned contract it made with KCD five years ago.

Commission Chairman Leroy Wetta announced at the outset that attempts by the county to buy KCD were at an end because he said it isn’t economically feasible considering both the “sweat equity” and cash equity Savage and Bond have in it.

The discussions at times were tense before groups at day and evening sessions that included city mayors, managers, waste collectors and other interested parties.

Savage and Bond repeatedly pointed out that they have performed well on processing and moving solid waste out of the county as per the contract even though they weren’t always included in finalizing city contract extensions.

They felt they had made to collect individually from each waste collecting agency whether urban or rural to their own cost when the contract specified that the entire county would be paid for through the county.

Savage said that unless the county decides to assess everyone in the county for waste disposal, there would continue to be losses from residents who bring their waste for disposal at a site they don’t pay for at cost to KC.

Commissioner Bob Hein asked several times if the problem couldn’t be solved for the rest of this year with the cities just continuing to pay KCD while the commission worked out details for next year.

Savage said that would be analogous to the county paying for roads by asking each city and township to pay for the ones that benefitted them, and that no contractor would want to deal with that.

Commissioner Howard Collett seemed to bring the discussion to a climax by agreeing that by state statute and the contract, that the county is responsible.

He said: “We have to honor it, and I can’t see any other way than for the transfer station to look to us for payment. We will have to find a way to collect it.”

Collett and Wetta said the commission had wasted weeks in legal negotiations, money and discussions on buying KCD, and that now it was imperative to act.

Both Hillsboro Mayor Delores Dalke and Marion Mayor Eloise Mueller acknowledged that current waste collection fees and disposal, and KC’s performance are satisfactory. They said other cities in the county that don’t have such systems in place will need time to pass ordinances, and publish legal notices if the county makes an assessment for county-wide waste disposal.

Wetta, in calling for careful deliberation on an agreement with Robson and the KC partners working together, said, “I would hate to see us have a patchwork solution adapted for the next three months until the first of the year without us being able to use it as the basis for the next five years.

“We can probably make it work for three months if we can collect and pay from the general fund, but next year it won’t work without amending the budget for inflows and outflows with some kind of levy. In order to be fair to everybody in the county there will have to be an assessment on every household.”

The commissioners confirmed that if every household is assessed, then every household will be entitled to dispose of a normal level of household waste if transporting it to the transfer station can be arranged. Determination of household numbers may be made under methods ranging from using city utility user counts to using county appraisal records.

John Stutzman, who operates a waste hauling company in the Peabody, Goessel and adjoining Harvey and Reno County areas, said waste haulers only need to be directed on who to pay waste disposal fees to for a plan to work the rest of this year.

In other business, Stan Utting, manager of Agri-Producers Inc. cooperative at Tampa met with commissioners to assess the impact on new truck weight limits on county roads on semi-truck haulers of grain from the cooperative.

He was assured that the spirit of the limits is only to protect roads from traffic that might depart from main highways, and that the commissioners wish to encourage traffic within the county that contributes to the county’s economy.

The commissioners held a brief public hearing with no comments before passing 3-0 a resolution supporting seeking funding of a microloan program for economic development presented by Susan Cooper, development director for the city of Marion (see last week’s paper for explanation).

Sheriff Lee Becker announced advertisement of acceptance of bids for food service at the jail.

Commissioners approved 3-0 a single bid from Cardie Oil Co. for $9,958.70 to provide fuel for the Road and Bridge Dept.

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