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Council approves trash hauling, trailer contracts

Council approves trash hauling, trailer contracts Source: City of Powell. Tribune graphic by Gary Staebler

Spirited discussion over Billings’ landfill agreement  

An item that wasn’t on the agenda sparked the most heated discussion at Monday night’s Powell City Council meeting.

The council approved contracts to haul household waste to a Billings, Mont., landfill and to buy a second trailer to do that.

But a spirited, even heated debate on reaching an agreement with the Montana city, which has yet to be finalized, was the dominant point of the meeting.

“Are we a little cart before the horse?” asked Councilman Eric Paul, noting the city had not made a final agreement with Billings. That is expected to happen in June, according to city officials, with delivery of the municipal solid waste (MSW) starting July 1.

Mayor Don Hillman said it was a “no-brainer” to reach an agreement with Billings, since its tipping fees are so much lower than other options.

Councilman Josh Shorb said he was worried about “unforeseen consequences” by this decision, which drew a response from Hillman, who asked if he was implying “political blackmail.” Neither man clarified what that was a reference to, but Shorb said he was concerned about not working with other communities in the area.

“This is a chance for us to build Park County infrastructure by going to Cody,” Shorb said.

Councilman John Wetzel said the city had tried to work with other entities in the past and had not had much success. In fact, individual county commissioners have personally lobbied against the passage of capital projects tax proposals, Wetzel said after the meeting.

Councilman Myron Heny said it made sense to do business with Billings, which is offering a tipping fee of $26.06 per ton, compared to the Park County Landfill in Cody. The current offer from the Park County Commission is $72 per ton.

“How can we say we’re fiscally responsible when we say we’re going to save between $150,000 and $180,000,” Heny said, noting that if the city raised garbage rates after not taking the best possible landfill cost, people would be outraged.

“We’d pay off our transfer station in five or six years, and our trailers,” Heny said, in a reference to a contract with Billings.

Shorb said that was a “potential savings, not a realized one.”

Shorb said the transfer station is half-owned by the state, a reference to the state grant the city had received, but Heny said he spoke with Department of Environmental Quality officials, who said it was “no problem” for Powell to haul its MSW to Billings.

City Administrator Zane Logan said the $198,526 trailer purchase made sense no matter where the city takes its MSW.

“We need a second trailer anyway,” Logan said.

That need would be great if one broke down, he said. In the end, the council voted unanimously on both contracts.

The hauling contract went to Warren Transport Inc., which has facilities in Warren, Mont., and Lovell. The firm bid $500 per round trip, lower than the bids of two Powell companies, Ken George Trucking, which bid $591, and Dick Jones Trucking, which bid $630.

The George bid was ruled invalid, however, since the insurance paperwork was not in the bid packet, Logan said. It arrived via email just before the bids were opened, but it turned out not to be acceptable, Logan said.

The city will buy the 48-foot trailer from Nexgen Municipal Inc. of Burlington, Ontario, Canada, which offered the trailer for $198,526. There were no other bids. The city also bought a trailer and equipment for the city’s transfer station from Nexgen last year.

The city would make a down payment of $69,484.10. The trailer would arrive in July or early August and the city would then pay the balance.

The city plans to add two axles to the existing trailer, which would give both hauling capabilities of about 21 tons.

Powell resident Amber Wall said the public was “a little bit ticked off” by increasing city fees. If hauling garbage to Billings will save money, it is worth doing, she said.

“Just because someone is your neighbor, doesn’t mean you have to shop with them,” Wall said. “For the most part, we don’t want to pay any more taxes than we have to.”

She also talked about having “Obamacare shoved down our throats” and asked the council “What would Jesus do?”

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