Originally created 01/08/97

Landfill deal isn't settled yet



AIKEN - Aiken County will join into an eight-county regional landfill at Savannah River Site.

However, the Aiken County Council balked Tuesday at giving final approval to a service agreement with the Three Rivers Solid Waste Authority that accompanied an ordinance adding Aiken to the landfill mix. The council plans to discuss the service agreement at a special meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Council members said they liked the idea of the landfill but were still not comfortable about some of the details, including the 30-year service agreement.

"It's something we talk about every 6 or 8 weeks, but it's something that has such a long-term impact," Councilman Eddie Butler said. "I think (the regional landfill) is the ideal solution .°.°. You ask if I'm comfortable with it? No. My stomach turns at night when I think about it."

The project, estimated to cost about $15 million initially, will cover 1,100 acres at SRS and is expected to take in nearly 200,000 tons of garbage a year for 50 years. About 300 acres will be used for self-contained, monitored cells to store garbage.

It will cost slightly more for Aiken to dispose of garbage in the regional landfill, but that's better than building a new landfill independently, organizers have said. The county's current landfills don't meet federal disposal standards.

County Administrator Bill Shepherd, who supports the idea of a regional landfill, expressed several concerns about the contract, including a requirement that Aiken and other member counties temporarily foot the bill if a county drops out or fails to meet its obligation for the landfill.

However, projects manager Colin Covington and Tom Barker of the McNair Law Firm, which is drafting the financing agreement for the landfill, said the authority had sufficient legal recourse to collect from a county that fails to meet its obligation.

Organizers also announced the project had been given an "AAA" credit rating - the highest bond rating available.

Meanwhile, the council also unanimously approved a new program that requires mobile home owners to display a decal on their trailer showing they paid their taxes on it each year.

It's designed to target more than 1,500 mobile homes that aren't registered or taxed by the county.

Additionally, after drafting a set of rules for its contingency fund, council approved $4,900 in new expenditures on Tuesday. Last month, the council voted to limit expenditures from the fund to $1,000 and federally-registered nonprofit groups.

Council gave $1,000 to the Belvedere Girls Softball League, Second Baptist Church, South Carolina Heritage Corridor and the Bath Fire Department and $900 to St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

In other business, council approved:

  • The sale of 50 acres of land at the Savannah River Cooperative Research Campus to two environmental management firms, which could mean as many as 130 new jobs.
  • Naming the county's new hazardous materials team as a special rescue service so volunteers can qualify for workers compensation.
  • The election of Councilman Joel Randall as vice chairman. He succeeds Councilman Jim Baggott.