Deep South Solid Waste Management Authority after privatized landfill

Local counties and cities sold off one landfill in Lowndes County in the late 1990s, and a second one in 2005 through the Deep South Solid Waste Management Authority. Yet in 2007 the Deep South Municipal Regional Solid Waste Management Authority (WMA), with the same county and city member governments, was still active, discussing a regional recycling station. And it is still active today, including some of the same board members the entire time since 2005, such as Valdosta City Manager Larry Hanson. Hanson was not present last week when Valdosta Mayor John Gayle said Valdosta does not control the landfill, or perhaps he would have mentioned that Valdosta through its longterm seat on the WMA board does have some degree of control over the landfill’s operations.

I notice quite a few of the Valdosta City Council’s own minutes record discussions and votes related to that WMA including this item from their Regular meeting of 4 October 2014, which was called to order by Mayor Gayle:

  1. Boards, Commissions, Authorities, and Advisory Committees
    1. Consideration of an appointment to the Deep South Regional Municipal Solid Waste Management Authority. — Appointed Richard Hardy, Public Works Director (7-0 Vote).

There must be some advantage to the City of Valdosta to have two members (Hanson and Hardy) on the WMA board. Certainly the average citizen or organization does not have that.

Bill Roberts, VDT, 5 December 2005, Authority closes on landfill deal,

VALDOSTA — After five years of negotiations and hurdles, the Deep South Solid Waste Management Authority finalized the sale of its Wetherington Road landfill and operating permit to Onyx Evergreen on Wednesday.

The 350-acre site, adjacent to Onyx’s existing landfill operation, fetched $2.7 million and included additional considerations in the form of reduced “tipping fees,” or the amount charged per ton for solid waste disposal. Valdosta City Manager Larry Hanson estimated the deal would save the city $10 million in tipping charges over the 50-year life of the agreement.

The Authority — comprised of the cities of Valdosta, Lakeland and Nashville as well as Lowndes, Lanier and Berrien counties — originally planned to operate the landfill itself, hoping to solve waste management issues in the area, but Onyx offered a better tonnage rate than the group could achieve on its own.

According to Authority members, the tipping rate alone made the deal worth the hassle. Onyx agreed to a 50-year contract at $21.95 per ton of refuse. That rate can only be increased every fifth year, only in an amount commensurate with inflation and only if the Consumer Price Index grows by more than 2 percent in the fifth year.

The contract also contains a “most-favored-nation” clause. Should Onyx offer another customer a better deal, Authority members are guaranteed a rate of a dollar per ton less.

There’s more in the story about how much each of the Authority members “contributed towards the project”. And this:

Valdosta and Lowndes County bought 900 acres of land in 1997 for $1.9 million. The county later sold their interest in the 350-acre tract to the Authority with Valdosta financing the deal. The city and county still own 550 acres adjacent to the Onyx site, and discussions are under way to decide if the Authority should shop the property, essentially renewing the entire process.

After the municipalities are reimbursed and all costs associated with the deal are settled, the Authority will still have nearly $700,000. Hanson said that money would be used to promote “environmentally responsible” approaches to solid waste management in the area.

Kay Harris, VDT, 21 July 2007, Valdosta’s a potential hub for region’s household waste,

VALDOSTA — Valdosta/Lowndes County may soon be the site of a regional recycling station for all of southern Georgia, and may also one day house a regional transfer station, where household waste would arrive by the truck or trainload from other areas before being transferred to the local landfill.

At a meeting Wednesday of the Deep South Municipal Regional Solid Waste Management Authority, officials from participating regional governments discussed these and other future projects. The six member governments include Valdosta, Lowndes County, Berrien County, Nashville, Lanier County and Lakeland.

A number of elected officials attended the meeting from the member governments, and as several officials were attending for the first time, the vice-chairman of the Authority, Valdosta City Manager Larry Hanson, presented a brief overview and history of the authority, which he stated began in the early 1990s as a collective from more than a dozen counties attempting to reduce waste and manage the landfill.

So the authority on the Authority is Valdosta City Manager Larry Hanson.

In the late 1990s, the Lowndes County landfill was sold to the company that is now Veolia, and a contiguous site was purchased for a new regional landfill. Once the new site becomes fully operational this year, the Authority will receive royalties of $1.25 per ton from Veolia. The tipping fees paid by the Authority members for each truckload of garbage hauled to the landfill is $22.45 per ton, compared to the statewide average of nearly $35 per ton.

Hanson said of the Authority’s six members, only Valdosta and Lowndes County are bringing their garbage to the local landfill. The authority chairman, Lowndes County Commissioner Richard Lee, said, “It’s in our best interests to bring our garbage to the facility we have a financial interest in.”

The Authority has a balance of more than $800,000, and Hanson stated a portion of those monies would be made available to member governments in the form of grants for education and other purposes in their communities. However, it is limited to those who currently use the landfill, making Valdosta and Lowndes the only member governments eligible to apply for one of the grants.

Hanson said the city of Valdosta has submitted a grant proposal for $40,000 to the Authority to support the city’s ongoing litter initiatives.

In addition, Commissioner Lee and Kevin Beals, the development reviewer for Lowndes County, presented ideas for the Authority to consider, including an upcoming application to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs to be the southern hub for a recycling center for household waste.

Apparently that scheme didn’t happen.

The authority’s purpose is to oversee a number of issues related to trash collection and recycling, and also to maintain a relationship with Veolia. At the previous meeting in April, the members discussed the regional collection/transfer station, but tabled the discussion in order to obtain more information. The regional collection and transfer station would be a collection site for all household waste, which would arrive by truck or rail, and would then be transferred to the landfill. The discussion was tabled a second time.

Other issues at the April meeting included the approval of a land swap that will move the existing landfill closer to the City of Valdosta’s wastewater treatment facility and farther away from a residential area.

The Deep South Municipal Regional Solid Waste Management Authority meets quarterly. For more information, contact Marty LeFiles at the South Georgia Regional Development Center.

All sorts of information here that Lowndes County would not divulge in response to open records requests: the local government members of the Authority, how often it meets, and tipping fees.

Meanwhile, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) lists: 2013 Directory of Registered Local Government Authorities,

Deep South Regional Municipal Solid Waste Management Authority


Return to Search Results   |   Authority Search Page


Creation Date: 9/1/1996
Method of Creation: General Statute
Official Citation: O. C. G. A. 12-8-50
Dependency: Independent
Single or Multi Jurisdictional: Multi-Jurisdictional
Members: Berrien County
Lanier County
Lowndes County
City of Nashville
City of Lakeland
City of Valdosta
Contact:
Julia Shewchuk, Secretary
327 West Savannah Ave
327 West Savannah Ave
Valdosta, GA, Georgia   31601
229-333-5277
Board Members:
Albert Studstill, Jr, Steve Sumner, Larry Hanson, John Whitehead III, Bill Darsey, Billy Retterbush, Kevin Beals

Everything was the same for 2012, for 2011, for 2010, for 2009. for 2008, for 2007, for 2006, and for 2005, which is the year the sold off the second landfill.

A significant change occured for 2014 with the addition of a local government member, “Echols County CG”, and a slightly different list of board members, with Travis Harper replacing Billy Retterbush:

Albert Studstill, Jr, Steve Sumner, Larry Hanson, John Whitehead III, Bill Darsey, Travis Harper, Kevin Beals

For 2015 the board is again slightly different, with Alex Lee replacing Albert Stustill, Jr and Richard Hardy replacing John Whitehead III:

Alex Lee, Steve Sumner, Larry Hanson, Richard Hardy, Bill Darsey, Travis Harper, Kevin Beals

And again for 2016 it’s slightly different, with the addition of Larry Ellen:

Alex Lee, Steve Sumner, Larry Hanson, Richard Hardy, Bill Darsey, Travis Harper, Kevin Beals, Larry Ellen

Finally for 2017 it’s unchanged:

Alex Lee, Steve Sumner, Larry Hanson, Richard Hardy, Bill Darsey, Travis Harper, Kevin Beals, Larry Ellen

So Steve Sumner (Berrien County Commissioner), Larry Hanson (Valdosta City Manager), Bill Darsey (Lakeland Mayor), and Kevin Beals (Lowndes County Human Resource Director) have been on there the entire time since 2005. Presumably they know what this WMA does.

-jsq

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