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April 22, 2010

Council reviews options for future of solid waste disposal

Reader comments (0) By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Thursday, April 22, 2010

In the coming months, the Charlottesville City Council and the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors will make several decisions related to the future of trash and recycling services in the community.  An agreement that governs how each community pays for services offered by the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority (RSWA) expires on June 30, 2010, providing each locality with options to handle waste disposal differently.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100415-CC-Solid-Waste-Work-Session

City Councilors were briefed on the topic during a work session on Monday, April 19, 2010.
The RSWA operates the McIntire Recycling Center, the Ivy Materials Utilization Center (trash transfer station), and a paper sort facility. The agency is also in charge of maintaining the Ivy landfill site which stopped receiving new material in 2001. 

In December 2007, a three-party agreement was signed in December 2007 between the city, Albemarle County and the RSWA to continue these operations. However, the agreement did not address how services would be paid for, but set a deadline of June 30, 2010 to come up with a new funding mechanism.

The issue is complicated because each locality offers different levels of service to its residents. The City of Charlottesville provides free curbside recycling to its residents, and charges a fee for pick-up of other trash. In Albemarle County, trash pick-up and recycling is offered through private firms.  

Both residents are able to use the McIntire center free of charge, thanks to payments made by each locality to the RSWA. The cost of those operations are also offset by the sale of some of the collected materials. Recycled materials dropped off at the center are not combined with what the city picks up through curbside recycling. The University of Virginia’s recycled material is also handled separately.

In late 2009, the RSWA Board authorized a request for proposals to get information on how much it would cost to privatize operations at the McIntire Recycling Center and the Ivy Materials Utilization Center.   

20100415-Mueller Public Works Director Judy Mueller

“What we had hoped is that we would have been able to price out each of the individual services that the [RSWA] provides,” said Public Works Director Judy Mueller. "Unfortunately, it hasn’t moved that fast… and we’re not in a position to bring you those numbers.”The proposals were intended to give city and county officials information they needed to make a decision. The information will be published this Friday with the board packet for the RSWA’s April 27, 2010 meeting.

By law, the city, county and the University of Virginia are responsible for paying for remediation of the Ivy landfill for the next few decades. The RSWA did not solicit bids to privatize this service.

The city currently has a contract with Waste Management to pick up trash from city streets. That trash is currently taken to Allied Waste in Zion’s Crossroads at a cost of $41.25 per ton, as required in the 2007 agreement. The specific destination requirement also expires on June 30, 2010.

Mueller asked Council for permission to solicit proposals for alternative trash deposit facilities, but stated that Waste Management would continue to pick up trash from residents’ homes. Council gave her that direction.

20100415-Bedford Mike Bedford runs Peter van der Linde's recycling facility and gave an impromptu presentation at the end of the work session

“We have nothing to sell except for the lowest price and the highest rate of recycling,” Van der Linde said. “That’s our agenda.”

Earlier this year, the RSWA and Van der Linde settled a multimillion dollar lawsuit  the RSWA had filed against Van der Linde claiming that he tried to avoid paying the authority fees for each ton of trash delivered to the waste transfer center at Zion Crossroads. Van der Linde paid the RSWA $600,000 in the settlement.

TIMELINE FOR PODCAST:

  • 01:00 - Mayor Dave Norris opens discussion about solid waste
  • 01:30 - Acting City Manager Maurice Jones reviews agenda for meeting
  • 03:00 - Public Works Director Judy Mueller reviews the recent history of the RSWA
  • 08:30 - Norris asks for more information on the bids
  • 09:10 - City Councilor Satyendra Huja asks what services are provided by the RSWA
  • 12:45 - Norris asks Mueller what happens to solid waste when it is taken to Ivy
  • 13:45 - Huja said he thinks mostly county residents use the McIntire center
  • 16:15 - Mueller describes the current situation
  • 17:15 - Norris asks if RSWA would have to continue being in charge of remediation of Ivy landfill
  • 18:30 - Mueller explains economics of recycling and how some materials can offset fixed costs
  • 19:45 - City Councilor Kristin Szakos asks if items picked up from curbside are combined with that dropped off at McIntire
  • 21:50 - Norris asks question about how curbside trash is handled
  • 23:30 - City Attorney Craig Brown explains the history about tonnage taken to Allied Waste
  • 25:00 - Mueller describes how some county trash was exempt from the service contribution fee, whereas city trash was not
  • 25:45 - Norris asks if privatization is a way to reduce expenses
  • 27:00 - Norris asks how end of service contribution fee has affected RSWA budget
  • 28:30 - Mueller asks for permission to seek bids for new destination for trash
  • 31:00 - City Councilor Kristin Szakos asks about other ideas such as curbside composting to reduce waste
  • 33:45 - Norris asks about prospect of moving to single-stream trash disposal
  • 36:00 - Brown said he wants to evolve to a system where recycling is maximized, suggested TJPDC find a grant
  • 41:45 - Brown discusses possibility of incinerators that use new technology
  • 46:30 - Szakos wants more research done on the cost of community composting
  • 46:45 - Norris asks for more information on whether all community recycling should be pooled
  • 50:30 - Public comment from Preston Coiner
  • 55:00 - City resident Downing Smith asks two questions
  • 59:00 - Public comment from Dede Smith 
  • 1:01:00 - Public comment from county resident Richard Lloyd
  • 1:04:30 - Public comment from Mike Bedford, operator of Van der Linde's recycling facility
  • 1:09:10 - Public comment from Peter van der Linde
  • 1:12:30 - Question from city resident Colette Hall about the future of the McIntire center

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