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Leaders debate borrowing or ‘pay as you go’ system for Solid Waste

Rather than transferring excess revenue to the General Fund to participate in the debt offering, Washington County Solid Waste Committee Chair David Shanks wants to wait for the department’s surplus to accumulate so needed equipment can be purchased outright.
“I’d like to see us…straight-line the budget for the next year or two, and not have to borrow,” he said during the July 1 meeting of the Solid Waste Committee. “That would be my preference and recommendation to the Budget Committee and the full commission.”
The proposed debt offering includes $230,000 for three new compactors, five containers and site preparation for additional compactors at the three busiest recycling centers.
Shanks said an investment in compacting equipment is required to gain the savings from making fewer trips to the landfill. “We also need a stronger recycling program,” he added.
Solid Waste Director Charlie Baines said additional savings may be realized by rebuilding the last three compactors purchased rather than buying new ones at approximately $35,000 each.
“A motor, pump and cylinder are all that is needed,” Baines said, referring to his suggestion to remove the circuit boards and rebuild the newer compactors to match the earlier design, which is also able to compact almost four tons more than the newer ones.
Shanks was in favor of the idea.
Budget Committee member Joe Grandy said the cost of the new compactors is almost fully covered by the savings in the new solid waste disposal contract recently agreed upon.
“My thinking is you’ve already straight-lined the budget by all the time spent on the new Waste Management contract,” he said. “It’s almost dollar for dollar.”
Shanks said he would rather see the Solid Waste program follow a “pay as you go” system.
“I think there is an advantage to having money in the line item to have the flexibility to buy or repair/rebuild (compactors),” he said.
At Shanks’ request, Baines will provide an estimate on the cost to rebuild the compactors during next month’s meeting.
“The issue there is while you’re waiting for the funds to accumulate, you aren’t getting the efficiency of fewer hauls,” Commissioner Mitch Meredith pointed out while discussing the topic at the July 3 called meeting of the Budget Committee.
The Budget Committee chose to keep the $230,000 for the Solid Waste Department in the debt offering proposal for the full commission’s consideration.