On Tuesday the Pike County Fiscal Court received an update regarding the re-permitting of the county land fill from Geosyntec consultant Thomas Ramsey. Ramsey was also asked to help the Solid Waste department solve the problems surrounding its proposed four-day garbage collection re-routing schedule.
During Ramsey’s last visit in June, the court approved about $5,900 for the very first piece of a four-step plan for the expansion, that first piece, Ramsey said, was to revise the solid waste management plan for the county. The current, which was updated last year, according to Ramsey, did not consider the need for an expansion.
Ramsey said it is his belief that the current phase of the landfill has about five years left of disposal space left, as a result of that, coupled by the long-term disposal needs of the county, he said that it’s time to move forward with the expansion to the landfill as soon as possible.
“The typical period of time that’s required within the commonwealth to permit an expansion such as this will be at least two years,” Ramsey said. “Then on top of that, in order to prepare construction documents and then have the first portion of the expanded landfill constructed be another year.
“So we’re looking at easily three years before we’re ready to get the additional disposal space ready for the county, so because of that, we’re in the window where we need to move forward,” he added.
In addition, Ramsey said, it is time to begun the remaining three phases of the expansion. Ramsey said he anticipates that the third step, a technical application, will need to be completed. However, the county will need to be in position to do so by next summer.
“I’m here to request approval for budgeting for the remaining three tasks,” Ramsey said. “That total effort that we’re requesting, which is outlined in the budget we had given previously, is more than $200,000.
“I recognize that is a substantial amount of money, however, the Commonwealth’s regulations for solid waste are exhaustive and very detailed,” he added.
Pike Judge-Executive Ray Jones, commended Ramsey for his work on behalf of the Solid Waste department, adding that the court appreciates the professionalism, transparency and diligence he has shown throughout the process before addressing Ramsey’s request.
“So we would do the application this year, the design next year and then by the third fiscal year, we would start the construction of the re-permitting of the landfill?,” Jones asked.
According to Jones, it would be Geosyntec’s preference if the county paid for the construction as it takes place, rather then having to go back to doing what the last fiscal court administration did.
“A lot of folks may not realize that the county is still paying for the construction of the current phase for the landfill we’re running right now,” Jones said. “But if we can pay as we go, it would be more financially advantageous for the county.”
Paying as the construction takes place would help the county not incur any debt from the project, as well as to free up bonding capacity for other things, which Jones said, is assuming the county can get its credit rating restored.
“With the rate adjustment that the court had passed earlier this year and additional efforts that’s going on within the solid waste department to be more efficient with collection and the operation,” Ramsey said. “The goal would be to be able to save enough money, so that when you get to the point when we’re moving forward with construction, you’ll have money saved to pay that with cash, as opposed to take debt financing.”
According to Jones, the county is making progress regarding its financial situation, as long as it continues on its current path.
“Now I’d like to shift gears with you just a little bit,” Jones said. “As you know, your company did a routing plan to help us potentially move to a four-day pickup schedule, but we have ran into some issues.”
According to Jones, those issues, on which acting route manager for Solid Waste Chuck Morley had shed light on at a recent meeting, have caused a delay regarding when the court had hoped the re-routing would begin.
“Chuck has got a lot of experience. He’s probably worked every route in the county and there are some issues,” Jones said. “It’s something I need you to talk to Chuck about.”
Just as Morley had informed the court, Jones said there are some commercial customers who have five-day pickup and if the county follows through with its four-day pickup plan, would the county be obligated to modify its permit to change the hours that Solid Waste would be in operation, or even if it would have to change the hours of operation for the landfill.
“My deadline has moved, I had hoped to have this done by July 1 and then Aug. 1, but with the problems and issues that have come up, I want to make sure that we measure three or four times and cut once because this is a big change and if it’s not done right, then it’s going to create problems with customer service and public perception,” he said.
According to Jones, the court wants to make sure it’s done right from the very beginning, adding that once Morley has completed his plan and made Geosyntec’s modifications he would like to gather a group together to hash out the issues facing the four-day pickup.
“We’re going to have some folks that have worked in Solid Waste in the past, we’re going to have myself, Reggie, at least one of the commissioners and we’re going to have to lock ourselves in a room to hash this out,” Jones said. “we’re going to make sure that if we go to four-day pickup, that it is in the best interest of the customers and the Solid Waste department.
“Because there is a lot of money to save, but if it’s not done right from the beginning, it’s going to be a bigger problem,” he added.
Morley informed the court that he actually had a four-day week laid out for every lot, which he said he let every foreman look over and include their input in, however, he again reiterated concerns in implementing the plan.
“I feel like if we have any problems with a truck breaking down or somebody calls in sick,” Morley said. “With our days so full, how do we cover those days.”
Something he said Ramsey and he had spoken briefly over, but there is still more conversation to have because according to Morley, the four-day pickup does have merit, it just needs to be figured out.”
Morley said the department recently discovered a problem with the compaction of some of the equipment due to a hydraulic issue with a number of the packers, but after a little research into the situation, the compaction rate should improve.
“That’s the thing about a four-day pickup,” Jones said. “We’re depending on being able to load the trucks to their maximum capacity and if their hydraulics aren’t working right and you can’t, then your’e going to have garbage that doesn’t get picked up.”
Morley also added that it wouldn’t hurt to replace the whole fleet of mini-packers, which he said would be 12 trucks.
One solution the court alluded to, is establishing a transfer station, which Ramsey said would help make routes and pickups more efficient and help the “wear and tear” on the equipment.
“For the big picture, we’re talking about trying to make the collection system here more efficient,” Ramsey said. “And if it’s more efficient, then that spends the taxpayers dollar better obviously.”
According to Jones, a meeting will need to be held as soon as possible to discuss the needs, problems and everything else surrounding Solid Waste as he said a decision needs to be made.