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April 30, 2010

Solid waste board discusses authority’s uncertain future

Reader comments (0) By Sean Tubbs
Charlottesville Tomorrow
Friday, April 30, 2010

At their meeting on Tuesday, April 27, 2010, the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority’s Board of Directors discussed the uncertain future of the agency. The RSWA received no credible proposals after asking in late December for firms to come forward with plans to privatize operations at the Ivy Materials Utilization Center and the McIntire Recycling Center.

Listen using player above or download the podcast: Download 20100427-RSWA

As a result, Frederick said the RSWA is not ready to release a budget for FY2011 because it does not have clear direction from Charlottesville or Albemarle County on what services they want to continue to purchase from the authority. A contract that governs how the two jurisdictions subsidize the two services, as well as a paper sort facility, expires on June 30, 2010.

The RSWA issued the RFP in late 2009 to find out how much it would cost to privatize recycling and transfer services. Frederick said five firms expressed interest, but most of them decided not to submit a proposal because they concluded it would not be profitable to take on the work.

One firm, van der Linde Recycling, did submit a proposal but later withdrew it after RSWA officials expressed concerns about changes that van der Linde’s proposal had suggested. The firm wanted to convert McIntire to a facility where materials to be recycled could be dropped off without sorting  and they also sought a flexible pricing structure. The RFP had asked specifically for fixed prices for services to be rendered.

“The proposal we received did not include fixed pricing,” Frederick said. “It included a formula that is equal to gross revenues plus 15%, minus expenses. A major concern to the staff is the extensive auditing of a private company’s books that would be required to determine… if expenses and revenues on the Authority’s contract were properly charged, separate and distinct from other business aspects of the operation.”

20100427-Frederick RWSA Executive Director Tom Frederick

The RSWA receives a tipping fee for every ton brought to its facilities. Usage of RSWA solid waste transfer stations at Ivy and in Zion’s Crossroads has declined dramatically in the past few years, bringing revenues down as well. Through the first nine months of the fiscal year, RSWA revenues are 62.54% under budget.

However, there is one small success. The RSWA had budgeted it would receive about $195,000 through the sale of recycled materials. Through March, the authority took in $210,307 through recycling.

Frederick said he would now be talking to Albemarle County officials to find out much they want to invest to continue offering the services.

“I’m very interested in what we can do to scale back the operations [so that] it does pay for itself, and what services we’d have to give up to do that,” said Albemarle County Supervisor Ken Boyd at the meeting.

20100427-RSWA-Chart Usage of the RSWA's solid waste transfer stations is down dramatically (Click to enlarge)
City Council has directed its public works director to issue an RFP to find out how much firms would charge to handle solid waste once it is picked up.  That would be a separate contract from the one the city has with Waste Management to conduct trash hauling within city limits for city residents.

Frederick suggested the RSWA could invest in its facilities in order to make them more efficient.  That would bring in more revenue.

“I think we need to understand, particularly from the County, what your long-term future desire is for services through the authority, as well as short-term,” Frederick said. “We can make some short-term decisions that may try to defer capital [investment].”

“One option is to simply get out of the solid waste business all together and let private haulers take it,” Boyd said. “I don’t know that that’s the real solution we ought to have. It scares me what would happen to solid waste in the county if we didn’t provide the services.”

Frederick said he would prepare a contingency budget for the RSWA’s operations past June 30. Boyd said perhaps the existing contract could be extended a couple of months to provide some additional room to make the decision.

Councilor David Brown was not present at the meeting. Charlottesville’s public works director, Judy Mueller, suggested holding an interim meeting to further discuss the matter.

Unable to calculate rate of recycling in 2009

The RSWA will not be able to provide a complete calculation of the rate of the community’s recycling for 2009 because one of the region’s leading recyclers is not cooperating, according to Frederick.  He said van der Linde Recycling declined to provide the agency with details of how much material was received at their facility at Zions Crossroads.

“Because the van der Linde facility now contributes substantially toward the local recycling rate, we believe any attempt to publish data without their inclusion would be substantially in error, and thereby without purpose,” wrote Frederick.

Frederick said data on its own recycling center has been supplied to the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC), which is legally responsible for supplying a recycling rate to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

Erin Yancey, an environmental planner for TJPDC, said in an e-mail she did not expect a problem in getting the data from van der Linde.


  • 01:00 - Meeting called to order by RSWA Chair Mike Gaffney
  • 01:30 - RSWA Executive Director Tom Frederick discusses why there will not be a recycling rate for 2010
  • 04:30 - RSWA considers consent agenda, decides to skip adoption of new by-laws because Councilor David Brown was not present
  • 06:10 - Recognition of appreciation for former City Manager Gary O'Connell
  • 09:30 - Discussion begins on summary of findings from the issuance of the RFP for privatization of RSWA services
  • 16:00 - Albemarle County Supervisor Ken Boyd asks how public process will continue on future 


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