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Radcliff, West Point officials consider county trash mandate a load of garbage

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Lawmakers say restricting county trash to Pearl Hollow Landfill would tie cities' hands

By Marty Finley

A handful of city officials have trashed a plan in front of Hardin Fiscal Court to mandate cities take their refuse to Pearl Hollow Landfill.

Council members in Radcliff and West Point have said the county mandate would tie the hands of cities to find the most cost effective deals and would stifle competition.

State law gives county governments authority over waste generated in a county and allows a county to restrict where trash is taken should it choose to do so.

Mayor J.J. Duvall on Tuesday asked Radcliff residents to contact county magistrates and proclaim their opposition to the ordinance before it gains passage. Duvall said Radcliff wants to work with the county, but the city should not be prohibited to take its trash elsewhere if a better deal is found or problems arise with the county-owned landfill.

Duvall said he understands the county’s desire to retain Radcliff’s trash because the volume lost would have a significant impact. But he said mismanagement of the landfill or an increase in tipping fees could dissuade Radcliff from wanting to use the county’s service.

Duvall also has talked with Waste Management and said there could be as much as $90,000 to $100,000 in annual savings by outsourcing residential and commercial trash to Outer Loop Landfill in Louisville. Duvall said Waste Management hauls around 10,760 tons of Radcliff’s trash to the Pearl Hollow Landfill annually, which equates to about $250,000.

Duvall said the city has not decided to make a switch but hopes the county would leave the option on the table.

Magistrates Roy Easter and Doug Goodman voted against the first reading of the ordinance and Easter challenged the mandate, saying it would bind a city’s hands even if it found a more cost effective outlet.

But Hardin County Judge-Executive Harry Berry has said the county’s landfill derives its revenue from trash volume and needs county-generated trash to maintain stability. The county government inherited the debt on the landfill and the financial obligations and debt payments fall on all residents in the county, he said Tuesday.

But he said he had no desire to trade barbs with cities over the issue.

“I’m not going to get down into a shouting match,” he said.

Berry said perceived short-term savings for cities could have detrimental effects on the landfill’s revenue and the expense of offseting the losses would hit the wallets of everyone in the county.

“My contention is it will cost them more in the long run,” he said of outsourcing.

Berry said the mandate has been implied for years in city franchise agreements across the county but has not been explicitly stated in formal writing. The ordinance, he said, fully outlines the county’s intent and removes any ambiguity for cities.

But at least one Hardin County city already uses a Louisville landfill. West Point Councilman Dwayne Culver said the city has a deal in place through Waste Management to utilize Outer Loop and a mandate would force the city to restructure its agreement or break the contract.

“I don’t know what the cost difference would be,” Culver said of switching to Pearl Hollow. “I think we have a pretty decent cost structure. I wouldn’t be in favor of a mandate.”

The mandate, Culver added, would show favoritism to one landfill over another and remove the notion of competition.

Forcing West Point to use Pearl Hollow also could be more expensive for residents because of transportation costs, he added.

Culver said West Point City Council has a responsibility to find the best options available and save as much money for taxpayers as it can.

Berry said he was unaware of any agreements West Point holds with Outer Loop but said the city’s waste should be going to Pearl Hollow Landfill even if the tonnage amount is minimal compared to Elizabethtown or Radcliff.

“The rules are the rules,” he said.

Duvall and Radcliff City Council has challenged the county before regarding waste collection, asking Hardin Fiscal Court to place a recycling trailer in the city because of its high volume of waste.

Berry has said there is no immediate plan to place a trailer there because Radcliff residents can access the county recycling trailer in Vine Grove, use recycling facilities at Fort Knox or pay a small fee for curbside pickup.

Since then, Radcliff has partnered with Waste Management to put a recycling trailer in the city at no cost to residents but city officials have said it would be a small measure of cooperation on the county’s part to place a trailer.
Easter told the council Tuesday the option of a recycling trailer is still alive at the county level as magistrates research the issue further.

“It’s not a done deal,” Easter said.

Councilwoman Barbara Baker said the debate over the recycling trailer may be a “snapshot” of what unified government would look like.

Goodman said he fears what unified government would entail if there is this much argument over what amounts to an oversized garbage can.

“If it was unified government, you’d be lucky to get a pothole filled,” he said.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com.

In other news:

Radcliff City Council on Tuesday reached an informal agreement to proceed with the drafting of design plans for a renovation to City Hall’s parking lot.

City Engineer Toby Spalding last month presented a conceptual drawing displaying ways to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff in the parking lot that is draining into the building and its basement. Council members said the city needs to eradicate the runoff because the water presents environmental hazards, such as mold exposure, for city employees.

Spalding said the conceptual drawing offers methods to capture runoff, including stormwater beds and concrete barriers. The renovation, Spalding said, would divert runoff from the building but would require the city to completely redo the lot. The drawing also includes new sidewalks and landscaping and would not reduce the amount of parking spaces available, Spalding added.

Spalding said the design plans will cost the city around $24,000 but must be be completed to gain a firm estimate on construction costs. The city plans to pursue grant money to offset some of the cost.