published Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

City councilman, chief of staff argue over Chattanooga landfill life


by Cliff Hightower
Larry Grohn
Larry Grohn
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Chattanooga City Councilman Larry Grohn spent several minutes Tuesday night talking about the life of the city's landfill and whether a search should start to find a new one.

But Chief of Staff Travis McDonough told him that had nothing to do with the landfill ordinance that was being discussed.

"As far as the ordinance, your questions don't have anything to do with this ordinance," McDonough said.

The council voted 8-1 Tuesday night to allow the Birchwood landfill to be able to set market rates for any nonresidents who come to the dump to get rid of their old items. Grohn voted against the ordinance.

McDonough told council members earlier during an agenda session that the city's old way of asking the council to change rates yearly was outdated and too lengthy a process.

Grohn, during the regular business meeting, said he had reservations. He talked about how the city had problems in the past with its other landfills at Montague and Summit. He cited a report that said the landfill had 20 years of life left and said he disagreed with city officials saying the landfill had 30-plus years of life.

"We're going to need the capacity we have," Grohn said.

But McDonough said the issue at hand was allowing market rates, not how much room the landfill had left.

"I just don't think they have a lot to do with the ordinance before you," he said of Grohn's comments.

In other news, council members walked across the roof of Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium on Tuesday morning as the council was set to vote on a resolution authorizing $350,000 in repairs to the roof.

Councilman Chip Henderson, whose background is in construction, said there is no doubt the auditorium needed a new roof.

"I can assure you it does need [to be] replaced," he said. "It is threadbare."

The council voted 9-0 to authorize replacing the roof.

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480. Follow him at twitter.com/cliffhightower or facebook.com/cliff.hightower.

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