“We’re not putting the burden on anyone else other than the city of Powell,” said Powell Public Services Manager Gary Butts.
The Powell landfill is scheduled to close to household waste in fall 2012, because the county found upgrading the site to new state water quality standards was cost-prohibitive. The county has upgraded and lined the Cody site to serve as a regional, regulation-compliant landfill.
However, city officials did invite commissioners to partner with them on the planned $1.3 million facility it would construct on city-owned land near the intersection of Lane 9 and Road 7.
The facility would house a compaction trailer that would be filled with Powell residents’ garbage, then hauled to Cody when full.
Butts said the county could build and operate an addition to the planned station to provide rural residents and haulers an opportunity to continue dumping their garbage in the Powell area before it is hauled to the regional landfill Cody.
Commissioners did not comment at the Jan. 12 meeting on how they viewed the idea of a partnership. The commission generally has been opposed to the idea of operating a transfer station and has viewed direct hauling as a better choice.
It was not clear exactly how a Park County/City of Powell transfer station would work, since allowing county residents or private haulers to drop off their trash would require having an employee present to supervise. If the facility is used only by the city, city employees can simply let themselves in with a load and lock up when they’re done.
A scale system likely would need to be installed to weigh county use as well, something that wouldn’t be necessary with only city use.
Powell leaders have expressed concern with directly hauling city residents’ garbage to Cody, fearing multiple, inefficient trips per day, wear on city trucks and possible highway safety risks. They also believe a regional landfill may ultimately be set up elsewhere in the Big Horn Basin.
“We want to have the best transportation system available for our garbage,” said Powell Mayor Scott Mangold.
Over a 20-year period, operating a transfer station instead of direct hauling would save about $1.1 million, Butts said. However, initially constructing the transfer station — a cost not included in the savings — is expected to run a roughly $1.3 million bill.
Butts said the city is prepared to put up $600,000 of its own money and is seeking state aid on the remaining $700,000.
Powell has a pending request before the State Loan and Investment Board for the funding. Another option could be to use consensus funding provided to the county’s governments by the state — assuming the Legislature provides the money this biennium.
Another suggestion for landfill funding was to ask Park County voters to approve a fifth cent of sales tax, known as the local option tax.
“I may be the only Republican in Park County that’s for it,” said Commission Chairman Bucky Hall.
However, several other officials, including Mangold, also indicated they were open to pursuing a fifth-penny tax.
In addition to landfills, Cody Public Works Director Steve Payne said there are large looming expenses across the county for water system, streets and bridge work.
The town of Meeteetse similarly is looking at constructing a transfer station as it deals with having to haul its trash to Cody. The Meeteetse landfill closed last summer.
Also at the meeting, Powell and Cody officials complained about the municipalities no longer being allowed to bring alley clean-up materials to the landfill free-of-charge.
“That was nothing but abuse,” said Park County Landfill Manager Tim Waddell of allowing unlimited amounts of clean-up materials for free. However, Waddell indicated he was open to negotiating with the cities on limited amounts of free clean-up when they renegotiate contracts later this year.
Mangold said he was concerned that if rates get too high, residents will say “to hell with the environment” and begin illegally dumping garbage in rural areas.
Commissioner Dave Burke said he saw value in providing free alley clean up.
If items pile up, “I think over time it just creates greater problems,” he said.
However, Commissioner Tim French cautioned that if too many items are free, “pretty soon that $90 (per ton tipping fee) is creeping up” for the garbage that is charged.
The cities and county plan to meet again on Feb. 8 in Powell.