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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Commission faces prospect of moving waste transfer station

MOUND CITY – What appeared to be a simple and straightforward report from Linn County Solid Waste Director Al Doan instead indicated a larger problem for the Linn County commissioners on Monday, Nov. 28.

The discussion started out with Doan and the commissioners talking about whether Doan thought it would be better to take the household waste to Iola or continue taking it to Oak Grove landfill in Arcadia, Kan. Doan said that Linn County was under contract with Oak Grove until April. Commissioner Rick James told Doan to have County Counselor Gary Thompson look at the contract.

Changing landfill sites for Linn County household trash had come up in the Oct. 3 meeting, when Commission Chair Jim Johnson talked about Iola having lower dumping rates. Public Works Administrator Shaun West had checked into the prices and the Allen County Landfill at Iola was charging $27 per ton for taking trash while it is $40 a ton at Arcadia.

Besides the somewhat longer distance to Iola, other issues to consider were also brought up at the Oct. 3 meeting. The issues were whether it would be more efficient and cost effective if each compactor site’s trash went to Prescott to a tipping floor where it could be loaded onto a walking trailer and hauled 20 tons to a landfill at a time or whether the county should continue taking each compactor site’s trash with only 3 to 8 tons of trash to Arcadia.

At the Oct. 31 meeting, the commissioners voted to have the county’s contracted engineering firm, Pfefferkorn Engineering, do a cost-benefit analysis study to determine what was more cost-effective. Other issues that would be considered were the cost of added manpower at Prescott, the savings in mileage, and other additional costs or savings.

Doan said that, if they went with taking all the trash to Prescott, the county would need to have another machine to load it.

Then West expressed his concern about having the tipping floor and building changed when the construction and demolition (C&D) cell they were dumping in now would soon be full in 1.5 to 2 years and another cell would have to be opened. He said there was no room for a new cell at their current location.

“Rehabbing the tipping floor we may walk away from may not be the best option,” said West.

West said maybe the county should have the study completed and then look at what to build in the future when that last cell is done.

If the county redesigns the tipping floor now, it may be more cost-prohibitive now than when that cell is completed and the county has to move that operation anyway to open up the new cell, he said.

What we need to know is where that next cell will open up and where our operation should be to benefit the location of the next cell, said West.

West said after the study is done and the location of the new cell is determined, then the county can use the results of the study when they build a new location with a tipping floor.

Doan said he would like to raise the dumping fees at the C&D landfill because it is going to cost so much to close it and to reopen another cell, so they could put some money back to help with the costs.

According to Doan, the cost for closing a cell is about $350,000 to $400,000 and the cost for opening a new one is $250,000 to $300,000.

Commissioner Danny McCullough pointed out that the bins and the compactors at the sites will probably need to be replaced in the future also and that should be included in the study.

Doan also reported that officials from the company to which the county is selling the recycled materials indicated that all the paper mills are full so they are either going to charge the county for taking our paper or they will just take it for free.

The commissioners asked Doan and West to take this additional information to the company doing the cost benefit analysis and next week they could discuss the entire plan, including closing and opening cells for the C&D landfill.

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