The Labette County Solid Waste Management Committee on Thursday night voted on a number of points its members want to see in a contract for operating a trash transfer station south of Parsons.
The 15-year contract with Waste Corporation of Kansas was signed in January 2005 and expires in January 2020. The tipping fee for cities that bring trash to the station is $44.37 a ton. Trash is collected at the station, pushed into trailers and trucked to WCK’s Oak Grove Landfill at Arcadia, about 60 miles away.
Committee members discussed the dump fee, the length of the contract, hours of operation and charges for smaller loads by citizens cleaning out garages or getting rid of furniture.
WCK is interested in a long-term contract so it can amortize the costs for improvements at the site, which is at the city’s old landfill. The company would like to build a pipeline to the city’s wastewater treatment facility for liquid waste from cleaning out the station. Leachate from the trash and water from the cleaning process is collected and trucked to the wastewater plant. The pipeline would simplify this process and save money in the long run.
Thursday’s meeting started with two closed sessions totaling 25 minutes for attorney-client discussion. After the sessions, Parsons City Manager Debbie Lamb said she wanted to discuss the length of the contract.
“The one that we have reviewed I believe is five years. But I feel like we should at least make it a 10-year,” Lamb said.
The seven voting members of the committee who attended approved Lamb’s motion.
Lamb then suggested that tipping fees collected for taking trash to the transfer station be increased in incremental steps. The contract that expires in 2020 is tied to the consumer price index and capped at 3% a year.
Labette County Counselor Brian Johnson, who will draft the proposed contract, asked for clarification about the timing of the increases.
Lamb suggested years one through five would be set at $35 a ton. Years six through eight would be $37.50 and years nine and 10 would be set at $40.
The committee approved.
Committee members also agreed to give WCK 15 days to respond or make a counter offer on the proposed contract. The counting starts on Monday, June 3, to give Johnson time to draft the contract.
If the committee gets no response from WCK, it can take the contract to other businesses to consider operating the transfer station.
The committee then discussed discounted rates for people who are cleaning out their garage or getting rid of a couch. Committee member Tim Peoples suggested they be charged half the tonnage rate for up to a half of a ton. If loads are over a half a ton they would be charged the full tonnage rate.
This rate would be available to any county resident.
Lamb suggested $1 a pound instead, but committee member Allen Winters said a 100-pound couch would cost $100 to dump.
“That sounds good to me,” said Matt Sanders, general manager for WCK.
Peoples suggested the half-ton rate again, but Derek Clevenger, the Parsons utilities director, suggested 10 cents a pound for up to half a ton.
Clevenger said the intention is for residents to take the couch to the transfer station for an affordable fee rather than dumping it in a ditch.
The committee agreed to include in the proposed contract the 10 cents a pound rate for up to half a ton.
Saturday hours also are to be included in the proposed contract. Lamb suggested WCK open the transfer station 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays and the committee approved.
Lamb said that she and others believe WCK is doing a good job. But she thinks the cities should be able to save money now that the transfer station is built and probably paid for.
She asked what Sanders thought about the discussion.
“I think we can live with it and make something work,” Sanders said.
He said a $35 a ton rate was not feasible with his transportation costs rising in the next year.
“So it’s going to be very difficult to get to $35, but I think if we can come up with a number somewhere in between we’d be in good shape,” he said.
Johnson will email the contract proposal to Sanders and committee members and wait for a response from WCK. Once he receives that, he will contact the committee to set a meeting date.