County concerned it’s ‘throwing away’ money in landfills

Published 7:34 pm Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Decatur County Board of Commissioners agreed Tuesday to close the county’s old landfill, and consider auditing the current landfill to make sure it is being run as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

During Tuesday’s regular board meeting, County Interim Administrator Gary Breedlove told commissioners that the county’s “old landfill” has been operating at an annual loss of approximately $7,500, for the last three years. The old landfill is now known as the Decatur County Environmental Center and Transfer Station, and is located on Fowlstown Road (State Route 309 South). Most of the county’s trash is handled at the “new landfill,” located off U.S. Highway 27 South, just north of the Florida state line.

The old landfill is only open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Breedlove said there is not usually much traffic. In addition, he said that lightning recently struck the scales at the old landfill. Because it would have cost at least $1,300 to repair them, Breedlove said he told the staff to just “estimate” the weight of loads, rather than pay for the scales to be repaired.

“The people that have been using it, the only other option they have would be to use the landfill on U.S. 27,” Breedlove said. “This is not a recommendation to close it, this is just a status report to let you know that it’s been operating at a loss.”

However, after learning of the annual loss, several commissioners questioned why the facility should remain open.

“Why are we using it if it’s costing us money,” Commissioner Frank Loeffler asked.

“The commissioners obviously have the call on this, I’m just giving you a status report,” Breedlove said. “There are still some people that use the place, but it’s being used at an operating cost to the county, and has been for three years.”

Commissioner Dr. David C. “Butch” Mosely made a motion to close the landfill by June 30, and that motion was passed unanimously.
Later in Tuesday’s meeting, Mosely also requested a “complete audit” of the new landfill.

“I think we need to determine if it’s making the money that we were told it was making,” Mosely said. “I just wanted to throw that out there and see if any of you have the same concerns that I have.”

Commissioner Oliver Sellers said he would also like for the county to investigate the fees it has been charging at the landfill.
“I think we’re losing a serious amount of money because our fees are too low,” he said. “Most of the surrounding landfills are about triple of what we’re charging.”

Mosely made a motion for Breedlove to begin the process of soliciting bids for a landfill audit, and that motion passed unanimously. However, commissioners also agreed that the landfill audit was not a pressing issue, and could be put off until the county finishes its fiscal year 2013 budget.