Hardin Fiscal Court will vote today on awarding Santek Environmental of Kentucky LLC a franchise agreement to operate and manage all aspects of the county-owned landfill.

Hardin County Judge-Execuive Harry Berry said the details for the deal, which eliminates one full-time position, were finalized last week.

Since Hardin County opened Pearl Hollow Land­fill in 1997, the county has contracted with a third party for the day-to-day operations of the landfill.

According to a news release, Hardin County always has either managed in-house or contracted the required construction, quality assurance, environmental testing and evaluation and oversight of the methane gas system.

“Today marks a huge win for Hardin County taxpayers,” said Berry in the release.

Berry credited the brokering for the deal to Deputy Judge-Executive Daniel London. When he came on board 18 months ago, Berry said London’s first question was, “Why are we losing money at the landfill?”

“Through a year of hard-work, research and careful planning, Daniel marshalled all of his experience in strategic planning, logistics, business, and government to streamline the operations of our county-owned landfill in such a way as to save taxpayers millions of dollars over the next decade,” Berry said.

The release said Santek will take over responsibility for all aspects associated with the operations of the Pearl Hollow Landfill beginning July 1. Out of the $32.38 charged per ton of waste, Santek will pay Hardin County $7.25 per ton up to 180,000 tons of waste per year and $4.75 per ton for all waste over 180,000 tons of waste. Santek also will invest approximately $11 million in capital expenditures into Pearl Hollow over the next ten years, the release said.

“The win for Hardin County taxpayers cannot be overstated,” London said in the release. “Pearl Hollow has operated at a loss for approximately 10 years to the tune of almost $500,000 per year. This was unacceptable to me as a taxpayer and county leader and I made fixing it my mission. As a result of this deal – including making our remaining short-term landfill related debt payments – we will now have a positive annual cash flow of at least $350,000 per year compared to an average annual net loss of $450,000 for each of the past 10 years.”

Near the end of the next 10 years, the county’s positive cash flow could reach $1 million annually, the release said.

Santek, headquartered in Cleveland, Tennessee, has been in operation since 1987 and operates in nine states, serving more than 5 million people. Berry said Hardin County’s experience with Santek has been a positive one for more than 10 years.

“We are excited to be expanding our business relationship with Hardin County,” said John McConnell, Santek’s regional manager in the release. “Hardin County is one of our best business partners and we look forward to another 10 years of a mutually beneficial relationship.”

London said all risk and operational expenditures to Hardin County taxpayers have been diverted to an entity experienced and more capable of managing a landfill with this deal.

“This is a prime example of the benefits of government divesting itself of responsibilities and business lines it is not good at and should not be involved in,” he said.

Hardin Fiscal Court cast its vote at 3:30 p.m. today at the Hardin County Government Building.

Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1741 or malford@thenewsenterprise.com.

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