Committee votes to extend county's solid waste contract with BFI

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   Hauling trash could get less expensive for the county.
   The sanitation committee of the Carter County Commission voted Tuesday to recommend extending the contract with Baxter-Ferris Industries (BFI) to provide solid waste collection service for the county.
   The extended contract would take effect in 2004, and features a reduced collection fee charged to the county from $24.75 to $23.25 during the contract's final five years.
   "We've had a good relationship with BFI," said Ed Buckles, director of solid waste for the county. "They've done exactly what they've told us they would do."
   The county commission voted to approve a 10-year contract with BFI for solid waste collection in February 1999. Under the contract, the county has paid $20.99 per ton of garbage plus a $7.99 transportation fee -- a rate schedule that will continue through 2004.
   That contract rate was slated to rise to $24.75 for the second five-year period of the contract.
   The extended contract -- if approved by the full county commission -- would lower the 2004-2009 fee rate to $23.25 per ton and represent a savings to the county of around $90,000 over five years.
   The existing contract called for the transportation fee to rise a maximum of 1.5 percent a year to 9.11 cents in the final year of the contract. That fee can still only rise by 1.5 percent per year under the revised contract, said Buckles.
   "The trucking company said they would hold as long as they possibly could," he said of any future increase in the transportation fee.
   Buckles said the county collected between 60 to 75 tons of solid waste each day, which was taken to the county's transfer station. Garbage trucks usually hauled three loads of waste from the transfer station to the BFI landfill in Hawkins County, he added.
   The contract also includes a provision allowing the county or BFI to opt out of the contract under certain circumstances.
   "Basically, in garbage in this area, you have three choices," Bruce Howard of BFI told the committee, "Iris Glen, us, or the Bristol, Va. landfill."
   Howard also said the Virginia General Assembly was considering a $5 per ton tax on all solid waste in Virginia. A prospect that could affect solid waste tipping and transportation prices around the region.
   "If that happens, it could drive prices up," he said.
   Howard said the Hawkins County landfill had an approximate life of 25 years under current disposal loads.
   Committee member Ralph Watson moved to approve the contract with Adeline Hyder giving the motion a second.
   The committee voted to approve the contract and present it for consideration at the commission's monthly meeting on July 15.