The Marion County Commission is inundated with ideas of how to handle its solid waste issues with yet another option presenting itself at the Feb. 12 meeting.
Jack P. Chappelle, a professional engineer with Engineering Solutions & Design Inc. of Overland Park, provided information on direct hauling trash as an alternative to building a new transfer station.
Chappelle, and the company he represents, said they have had more than a 15-year relationship with the county, and was approached by the administration to provide another course of action at a cost of $4,500.
Bruce Boettcher, also a professional engineer with BG Consultants, said Chappelle with ES&D was asked to conduct an official study that was initially was scheduled for the Feb. 5 commission meeting.
“If nothing else,” Boettcher said in an earlier interview, “(ES&D) can help to provide a back-up plan if the current facility were to fail before a new facility is in place or if the bond question fails.
“The danger in waiting is that the floor could give way, which could have some potentially tragic ramifications.”
Boettcher also explained that building costs don’t go down the longer the commission waits, and in most cases, prices increase over time.
Following Chappelle’s presentation, Boettcher offered a fourth way to go forward on a new transfer station under $3 million at grade at Washington Street.
“With 3-foot of fill (instead of a higher elevation previously proposed), it might be 2-foot or 21⁄2-foot, but getting it to drain away from the building with some dirt needing to be imported,” he said. “And with a 5-foot compaction ledge, the building would be 100-foot by 100-foot.
Boettcher spent more than 30 minutes talking in detail about the various areas that were part this new proposal—the cost effectiveness, functionality and public safety.
“Functionality is maybe not accomplishing everything you wanted out of it, but you should have that discussion if that could be trade off of the overall structure,” he said.
Chappelle said years ago when counties were having to look at new state regulations on landfills, the plan was that all four counties would support their development of the landfill, and all would go have direct hauling from different locations.
“At the time, the analysis showed it made more sense to direct haul from Marion to the city of McPherson, and direct haul from Newton (or from Harvey County) up to McPherson, and likely expand the transfer station in Dickinson County,” he said.
Chappelle said that was the original plan established back at that time.
“Through a series of events and disagreements, which I know is surprising among the counties, it happened that this plan never came to fruition,” he said.
In that respect there was an opportunity for Marion to direct haul to McPherson County.
“In my discussion with John Hawk and other people in McPherson, we have done a lot of work for McPherson County, and designed their new landfill.”
McPherson County option
Chappelle said: “I would suggest you consider talking to McPherson.
“And I assume you have had discussions with them, but if not, I would suggest it only from the perspective that they are very close to Marion County.”
The only downside is they are quoting $61 a ton for waste outside their county, he said.
“That doesn’t even match what Harvey (County) is willing to take,” he said.
“If Marion County is looking at McPherson County, I think you need to go in as a partner or have more of a say than just being a customer, which would return both counties back to the discussion in previous years.”
Dallke said that out of the three options presented, the commission needs to decide which way the county needs to head first.
“We could keep gathering information for six months,” he said.
Commissioner Kent Becker said, “In my opinion the next step is to contact Waste Connections and have a representative meet with us and just kind of talk to them about what they are thinking about (regarding) the future of Marion County.
“It appears to me that they want business and I would like to know that.”
Waste Connections operates throughout Kansas and offers waste disposal and recycling.
Becker said his concern is if the county builds a new transfer station, but Waste Connections ends up getting 30 percent more of the business from the county, where would that leave Marion County.
“Makes no sense to me (to build a new transfer station with so many unknowns),” he said.
The next question Dallke said was if the county didn’t build a new transfer station, how would it facilitate the towns the county is responsible for right now?
“These cities aren’t probably expecting to take their own (trash) trucks and drive someplace,” Dallke said.
Becker said he isn’t sure how it all would work.
“But let’s say (hypothetically) the county is responsible for part of the cost, the cities would need to send everything to Newton and they would need to drive their own trash trucks there,” Becker said.
“Maybe that is more of a feasible way in the end then spending that much money on a transfer station.”
Dallke said he believes the commission needs to take a look at everything that’s been discussed and come up with where they want to go from here.
Commission chairwoman Dianne Novak said she agreed that they need a work session. “I think we have plenty of information, and we need to make a decision,” she said.
Becker reiterated his belief that he would like to hear from a representative of Waste Connections, and what its intentions are.
“We know they have made end runs in the north and south parts of (Marion) the county, and they are looking for business,” Becker said. “And maybe they don’t want to talk to us.”
Novak said: “It’s our county, it’s our transfer station and it’s our taxpayers.”
Becker: “Yea, and we could build it and they could take all our business.”
Dallke added that they could undercut the county on costs.
Paying for services
“I would like to put Bruce (Boettcher with BG Consultants) on hold right now,” Dallke said. “He has done a lot of work for us, with the south shop option needing state permits (as an example).
“I would like to give him a direction on which way to go. But I want to thank Bruce right now, and have him give us a bill right up to where we are at right now.”
Novak said she had no problem paying him for his time and effort.
Dallke continued by adding that he didn’t want BG Consultants going down 10 different roads, meaning the point is to give them a direction, but without them being part of the next workshop.
The recommendations Chappelle said he would give the county is to consider Harvey County because it is a reasonable price and they are closer.
“The other question I was asked was to look at the viability of the old building and a new transfer station,” he said.
The distance to travel from Marion County to the Butler County Landfill is about 48 miles, he said, at a cost of $37 per ton.
Director Bud Druse said his major concern would be construction and demolition trash and recycling.
Responsibility to cities
Another concern voiced by the commission dealt with what is the county’s responsibility to its cities.
City Administrator Roger Holter statutorily by Kansas litigation from 1970, the counties are responsible for a comprehensive plan and execution of that plan.
“I encourage you to have that (a plan) and also pull that statute, which has 20 sections to it.”
Chappelle said: “Right now on our analysis, using our own EPA’s analysis of value of the transfer station to direct haul—in either case it was less expensive to direct haul.”