County hears new option for solid waste problem

The Marion County commissioners continued exploring options at its March 5 meeting for managing a solid waste facility with the latest proposal presented by Rocky Hett of Marion.

“Even with (building) a new transfer station, we are still spending $250,000 a year in tipping fees to Butler County,” Hett said.

“But, if we had our own landfill—small, and just for Marion County trash, we wouldn’t be seeing money leaving the county.”

The proposed 12 acres of land is one mile off U.S. Highway 77 and 1⁄2 mile north, Hett said, or north of the former Pizza Hut building in Marion.

“In 10 years, the county would have $2.5 million more (by not transporting trash to Butler County), which would pay for a new transfer station,” he said.

“Why are we giving Butler County $250,000?”

Other proposals

The commissioners are juggling transfer station possibilities with everything in the air.

But, as yet no decisions are being made, but more ideas keep coming.

Ideas as to where to build a facility, what landfill to haul trash to, whether to go with direct haul, outsourcing to another company or building a landfill.

Another alternative recently proposed by Jack Chappelle, a professional engineer with Engineering Solutions & Design Inc. of Overland Park, was to consider direct hauling trash.

Bruce Boettcher, a professional engineer with BG Consultants, said he sees the direct haul choice as only a back-up plan if the current transfer station fails.

Boettcher said he has always maintained that a new structure should be decided on sooner rather than later because of the danger in the current floor giving way.

The initial idea of a $4.6 million facility north of the current building was the only suggestion until proposals started springing up in mid to late January.

But, Chappelle said that years ago when counties were having to look at new state regulations on landfills, the idea of direct haul made a lot of sense.

City seeks partnership

Marion City Administrator Roger Holter said the city encourages the county to “reengage” with them as part of the solid waste management solution.

“We appreciate (the county’s) many contributions to our community,” he said.

“We encourage your support of continuing a path that utilizes the current methodology for addressing solid waste management as we hope to support the refuse collection and recycling efforts in the county.”

The commissioners originally considered land north of the current solid waste transfer station on Washington Street, but when the county considered other options, the council rescinded its offer.

“If the (Washington Street) parcels would be beneficial to the citizens of Marion County as part of the possible solution,” he said, “we would be honored to participate in a joint meeting to discuss potential land.

Holter cited parts of Kansas statute related to disposal of solid waste, which in Marion County’s situation is collected at the transfer station before its hauled to the landfill in El Dorado.

In the statement of policy the legislator enacted, it stated:

◼ establishing and maintaining a cooperative state and local program of planning, technical and financial assistance for comprehensive solid waste management.

◼ using the ability of private enterprise along with public agencies for an effective program.

◼ requiring a permit for the operation of solid waste processing and disposal systems. In addition, Holter also provided information from the statute about constructing, altering, or operating areas and requirements for closure and post-closure care.

◼ Counties are instructed by statute to review their solid waste management plan with proposed revisions to the plan drawn up by its solid waste management committee.

◼ Adopt the plan or revisions at least every five years by holding a public hearing, and notifying the transfer station department a review was completed.

Information was presented on the possible costs associated with hauling trash directly to landfills and the costs associated it.

◼ The round-trip cost to take trash to El Dorado, which is the current location, is $50 for fuel and $60 for employee salary and benefits for a total of $109.

The cost to Harvey County’s landfill would be about $10 lower based on the shorter distance.

Hutchison’s landfill cost would be higher than both El Dorado and Harvey at about $70 in fuel, $68 for employee salary and benefits and total of about $138.

◼ Capital equipment costs currently are on a 10-year replacement plan, according to the information, but the added mileage would raise the annual depreciation cost from $13,500 to $19,300 or $5,800 more.

◼ The county property special assessment taxes for almost 6,000 residential properties is $81 per year and fir the 966 commercial properties, the cost is between $151 and $302.

Holter said that in the city of Marion with about 950 residential properties the cost is $76,788 and the 219 commercial properties pay $41,374.

“The total special assessment of $118,162,” he said. “With direct cost to the city increasing by $66,398, what portion of the special assessment will be directed back to the city of Marion to offset the costs of the engineer’s proposal to move to direct haul process?”

Specifically for the city of Marion, Holter said the current household collection rates are $8.50 for residential and $17.50 for commercial for the average of the two at $12 per address.

“To cover the added costs, without subsidy, would cause a minimum rate increase of about $6 per monthly account.

The Marion’s total tonnage in trash last year was just over 869 tons, he added.

Outlying towns

Florence Mayor Bob Gayle spoke to commissioners about providing 14 acres of land at the old football field, which is north of the city’s water tower.

“Utilities would not take much to hook up,” he said, “and Florence would like to see something happening in its community.”

Gayle said he believed the city of Florence would sell the land for next to nothing.

Another proposal included building a facility on land that would require purchase from a private owner near the Marion County South Shop, lowering the cost of the facility from $4.6 million to $2 million.

Boettcher also drew up a proposal stating his firm could also shave the cost down to near $2 million.

Worst case

Citing a worst case situation, Boettcher said that if the current transfer station building’s floor gives way and there is no plan in place to fix it or build a new facility, he said the county would need to look at another way to get rid of the trash.

“Generally, building costs dont go down,” he said, “and the longer the commissioners wait, in most cases the prices increase over time.”

When the commission started the evaluation of the transfer station, they intended on three main goals, he said. Those included cost-effective improvements, efficient operation and public safety.