The projects still must be reviewed further by the Office of State Lands and Investments before getting the money, but the county does not expect that to present problems.
Commissioner Dave Burke, who represented the county at the Cheyenne meeting, said he was “pleased that this funding will help slow the rising costs to Park County taxpayers of proper disposition of older landfills.”
When finalized, half the money will be a 2.5 percent interest loan, with the other half being a “principal forgiveness” loan — effectively a grant.
Burke said commissioners don’t like to borrow money, “but that’s the tool that allows us to receive $2.75 million in grant funding.” The county can pay the loan back at any time, while Park County garbage customers will never have to pay the $2.73 million worth of work funded by the grant.
The money from the state would help pay for engineering, groundwater monitoring and protective covers for the trash pits when they close.
Meeteetse’s landfill closed last year, and formal closure operations will begin next year. Powell’s and Clark’s landfills are slated to close to household waste in September 2012.
The Clark and Powell sites aren’t slated to get covers for another two and three years, respectively, but the county applied now because the grant portion of the money — which came from the federal stimulus bill — is expected to be a limited-time offer.
The county’s planned closures and the creation of an improved, regional landfill in Cody are to meet new regulations from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality aimed at stopping garbage run-off from getting into groundwater.
Burke said the county is “working closely with DEQ in this matter for proper protection of Wyoming’s ground water.”
The county has planned all along to seek loans for the closures, as the upfront cost of closures would require substantial hikes in tipping fees otherwise.
Getting the money will slow rate increases at the landfill.
With the state grant/loan funding, tipping fees are slated to rise to $97.20 a ton in 2015 (from the current rate of $90 a ton). Had the funding been all-loan, the rate would have been expected to rise to $101.25 a ton.
If tipping fees alone were covering the big closure bills, rates would have needed to rise to nearly $130 a ton, said county consultant Brian Edwards of Holm, Blough and Co.