What is this contract involving tipping fees that Lowndes County declined to produce a copy of? How can it be “adequately maintained in the future”, as former Commissioner Lee put it, if the county doesn’t know what it is?
Resolution-Proposed Amendment-March 2007 Greater Lowndes Solid Waste Management Plan, County Planner, Jason Davenport, presented the resolution, adding that the amendment was drafted due to a proposed expansion and reconfiguration of the Evergreen landfill. Mr. Davenport added that the amendment had been reviewed by staff, the Regional Commission and the Deep South Solid Waste Authority. Mr. Davenport further stated that Mr. A.J. Rodgers, of Veolia Environmental Services, was present to answer any questions the Commission might have regarding the project. Commissioner Lee stated that he was concerned that the contractual relationship that has been in place for quite some time be accurately reflected and adequately maintained in the future. Commissioner Lee then asked Mr. Rodgers if a new cell had been created yet. Mr. Rodgers answered that construction had begun in a cell that had already been approved.
But what is this “contractual relationship”? According to a letter from Walter G. Elliott, Lowndes County Attorney, to Julia Shewchuck, AICP/Planning Director, South Georgia Regional Commission, 19 October 2010, Re: Lowndes County Solid waste Plan amendment,
There currently exists between the Deep South Solid Waste Management Authority and Veolia a Disposal Fee Agreement, providing for waste disposal at favorable waste disposal fees to Authority members. The Deep South Solid Waste Management Authority also receives certain payments from Veolia from operation of the Pecan Row Landfill and the Veolia Evergreen Landfill, and those funds are utilized for solid waste management needs in the region and participating local governments. Lowndes County as the host local government also receives certain “host” fees from operation of the Pecan Row Landfill and the Veolia Evergreen Landdfill as required by Georgia law. It is anticipated the environmental and financial benefits to the existing solid waste management system within the planning area from the operation of the Pecan Row Landfill and the Veolia Evergreen Landfill will be extended for a longer period of time if the proposed reconfiguration/expansion of the Veolia Evergreen Landfill is approved and permitted by state environmental agencies.
What are these “certain payments from Veolia”? According to Johnna Pinholster in the Valdosta Daily Times 10 February 2010, Out of the landfill business? City discusses transferring ownership of former landfill to Veolia
The Deep South Solid Waste Management Authority will also begin receiving a $1.25 per ton royalty fee that will in turn be distributed to the members of the authority, which includes the City of Valdosta.
So that $1.25 per ton would appear to be what is commonly known as the tipping fees. How are those tipping fees distributed to the various members? Who are the members, for that matter?
And what about those “host” fees to Lowndes County that the letter from the County Attorney carefully distinguishes from the Veolia payments to the Deep South Solid Waste Management Authority? Does Lowndes County really not have a copy of a contract with Veolia that specifies what host fees the county will receive? I suppose the former open records request asked for tipping fees, not host fees. Yet the answer from the county referred to host fees and didn’t say what the county received from the tipping fees.
PS: Thanks to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs for putting the attorney’s letter online.