The commission voted earlier this month to pursue $5.45 million in half-loan, half-grant funding from the State Loan and Investment Board for the closures.
The Meeteetse landfill shut its gates for good in the summer of 2010, while the Powell and Clark landfills will stop accepting household garbage a year from now to comply with state Department of Environmental Quality groundwater regulations. The county government, which runs all the landfills in the county, hopes to keep the Powell and Clark sites open to other materials, like dry construction materials, beyond September 2012.
The upgraded site near Cody is becoming the county’s regional landfill.
The city of Powell is constructing a transfer station to help get its household trash to Cody (see related story), while local private haulers may raise their rates to compensate for the added mileage.
Formal closure operations at the county’s landfills will include constructing a cover system over the top of the trash. That’s intended to keep rain and other precipitation from getting into the refuse, thereby reducing the risk of contaminated run-off from the garbage reaching groundwater. The work is slated to begin in the summer of 2012 in Meeteetse, 2013 in Clark and 2014 in Powell, but the county’s applying for State Loan and Investment Board money now because money is available.
While the low, 2.5 percent interest loans from Clean Water State Revolving Fund are expected to remain available, the state’s pool of money for principal forgiveness loans (effectively grants) may dry up.
“Applying for closure (funds) for landfills right now would be wise, rather than waiting and applying a step at a time, because nobody knows how long this money will be available,” said Commissioner Dave Burke.
The competition for the loans is expected to be pretty heavy this time around, but landfill projects have generally found favor with the State Loan and Investment Board, said Brian Edwards, a consultant for the county with Cody’s Holm, Blough and Company.
The county’s application requests $3.4 million for the Powell landfill’s closure, $1.1 million for Meeteetse and $950,000 for Clark.
Parts of the Cody landfill that are currently being used will also need to be closed in coming years, but that work is likely too far off to qualify for funding now, Edwards said.
Commissioner Tim French expressed concern about borrowing money, but said he’d support the application as long as the county can pay it back quickly, instead of over the span of, say, 20 years.
The county will pay back the money with the tipping fees that garbage customers pay at the landfill.
Fees, which rose from $60 a ton to $90 a ton in 2010, are next slated to rise in 2015. If the county receives no zero-percent interest funding from the state, rates would likely need to increase to $101.25 a ton, Edwards said. If the State Loan and Investment Board were to grant the county’s request, and make half of a $5.45 million effectively a grant, rates would rise to $97.20.
“It would help keep the rates down a little bit,” Edwards said. Because of the large amount of cash needed right away for closing the old landfill cells and building the new ones, without loans “what that rate (tipping fee) would need to be is scary,” he said.
The county’s application must be pre-approved at the State Loan and Investment Board’s Oct. 6 meeting.