Originally created 12/01/05

Leader explains landfill closure



Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross says getting out of the landfill business is in Columbia County's best interest - a move he feels most support.

Still, with the county's Baker Place Road Landfill only two months away from the Jan. 31 closing to the public, some have wondered why the county doesn't build another landfill and why the landfill will be closed before it is completely full.

The answer to both questions, Mr. Cross said, is simple: money, and nobody wants a landfill near their home.

"I really thought that the people would be happy not to have a landfill in the county," he said. "As long as we can have a source to go to, I would think that would be an advantage for us."

To build another landfill would require the county to purchase the land. He said it also would be expensive to obtain the permits needed to operate another landfill.

"With the private sector like it is, we didn't really see the need to pursue another landfill with all of the expense and complications that are there," Mr. Cross said, adding that taxpayers would likely see the cost "in some form or another. It would come as a bond referendum or tax increase or something along that line."

Mr. Cross said he believes trash service should be left up to the private sector.

"We don't want to be in the garbage business per se," he said.

Some of those in that business say the landfill's closing won't affect the cost they pass on to the customer.

"We can't allow it to effect our price to the customers," said Envia Crawford, a bookkeeper for Economy Sanitation, based in Martinez. "It's going to affect our price overall, of course, because we're going to have to go a greater distance to offload. We're going to have to (eat the added cost) in order to stay competitive."

Concerning the issue of capacity at the landfill, Mr. Cross said officials have yet to decide on that topic.

He said having some extra space left available at the landfill after its closing would be helpful.

"If you have a natural disaster, you would have a place to go locally and hopefully offset the cost of some of the cleanup,'' Mr. Cross said.

However, he said county Administrator Steve Szablewski has been tasked to determine whether the county might be able to use that remaining space even after the landfill closes to the public by having contract agreements with haulers, who could continue bringing trash to the Baker Place Landfill for a period of time to be determined.

Mr. Cross said the study is looking at such things as how much space should still be left open after the landfill is closed and how long haulers might be contracted to continue bringing trash to the county.

Reach Preston Sparks at 868-1222, ext. 115, or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

What's Next:

The closing of the Baker Place Road Landfill in Columbia County is set for Jan. 31. After that, anyone who doesn't have a trash hauler will either have to hire one or take their trash to a transfer station on Columbia Road in Appling or the Richmond County landfill.