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Price increase at Iris Glen triggers talk of transfer station

Preliminary discussions are under way to build a transfer station on county-owned property across the street from the Industrial Park in Telford.
“The issue resulted from the tipping fee increase at Iris Glen,” Mayor Dan Eldridge said during the Jan. 4 meeting of the County-Owned Property Committee.
Iris Glen Environmental Center in Johnson City raised its minimum drop-off fee to $83, which resulted in a surge of waste being brought to the Gray and Cash Hollow convenience centers not normally accepted, such as construction materials.
“We had some dumping, which led to the start of a discussion to consider an alternative to Iris Glen,” Eldridge said.
In another case, waste brought to one of the convenience centers was packaged as household trash, but the bags actually contained shingles.
“This has backed off since Iris Glen reduced the prices,” Eldridge said. The minimum disposal charge for one ton is now $42, ranging up to $83 for two tons.
In addition to Gray and Cash Hollow, convenience centers are located at Lamar, Washington College and Locust Mount for the disposal of residential waste. The centers are provided as a service to the taxpayers, and there is no drop-off fee.
“We have one of the most effective and efficient convenience center operations in place,” Eldridge said.
But the county is paying approximately $500,000 annually to Iris Glen in disposal costs.
Eldridge said owners of landfills in Sullivan and Hawkins counties are interested in bidding for the county’s business, but the cost to haul the waste to another county a few tons at a time is prohibitive.
“We need a transfer station, something central to the county, where we could bring the stuff from the convenience centers to consolidate and hold,” Eldridge said. “We estimate savings of $200,000 per year in disposal costs.”
The county pays $43 dollars per drop off to Iris Glen.
“Would it damage the image of the Industrial Park to put something like that in?” Doyle Cloyd asked.
“Not if it’s done correctly,” Eldridge answered.
The owner of the landfill in Sullivan County may even consider building the transfer station, which is estimated to cost $500,000, and being involved in the hauling.
If that arrangement does not come through, it may be in the county’s best interest to build the transfer station. “An investment of $500,000 for an annual return of $200,000 in savings is significant,” Eldridge said.
At this point, there are still a lot of unanswered questions.
“We are only in the very preliminary discussions,” Eldridge said, adding the county must determine its obligation to Iris Glen.
“The opportunity to bid is something we’ve never had before.”
Eldridge said the county hopes to submit a request for proposals within the next 60 days.