published Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Marion County OKs landfill contract


by Elizabeth Ryan
  • photo
    Kimball City Attorney and Marion County Attorney Billy Gouger
    Photo by Ryan Lewis

JASPER, Tenn. — After months of negotiations, the Marion County Commission has agreed to a contract with Solid Waste Disposal in Jasper to run the county's landfill.

The vote was 13-0, with Commissioner Ralph Pickett abstaining.

Commissioner Wayne Willis, chairman of the board's Sanitation Committee, said the committee "wholeheartedly" recommended the contract.

"We have worked hard for many, many months to try to get a deal worked out," he said. "What we've got [in this agreement] guarantees our county growth. We are protected for generations with our landfill."

The contract allows for two commissioners to sit on the landfill's seven-member board of directors, and the county will receive 50 percent of the landfill's revenue.

Originally, the county sought a representative from each district on the board and a 75 percent share of the revenue, officials said.

Pickett questioned those compromises.

"You've got to compromise in an agreement somewhere," Willis said. "Why couldn't it be a 100 percent? We negotiated, and that's how it works."

"The reason the county cannot have a majority control of [the landfill's] board of directors is it violates the nonprofit, exempt status of that corporation," County Attorney Billy Gouger said. "That is critical to both the county and the corporation's operating structure."

The contract permits the county to drop any liability it had at the landfill, Willis said.

"The liability has always been on the county until now," Gouger said.

County Mayor John Graham said he strongly urged the board to approve the contract because all of the members had been able to voice their concerns during the lengthy negotiations.

"It's been a very long process, and the Sanitation Committee has really worked hard and put a lot of time into this," he said. "Every member on that committee added something to [the agreement]."

Commissioner Tommy Thompson said he is happy with the compromise because it has some stipulations that have always been on his priority list.

"It creates a buffer between [the county] and the Environmental Protection Agency," he said. "If something goes wrong out there, [the EPA] would have been all over this board. This gives us another layer of insulation."

Commissioner Donald Blansett said the new contract is much better for the county than the one it had before.

"It safeguards our county for generations to come," Willis said.

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