Powell seeks way forward on transfer station

Posted 11/30/10

The planned September 2012 closure of the county-owned landfills in Powell and Clark and ultimate consolidation to one Cody landfill are results of new state water quality regulations; Meeteetse's landfill closed in June.

While September 2012 may …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Powell seeks way forward on transfer station


After being turned down by the State Loan and Investment Board, city of Powell officials are continuing to seek funding for a garbage transfer station. A transfer station would collect trash when the Powell landfill closes to household waste in the fall of 2012 and then be hauled to Cody, where Park County's regional landfill is located.

The planned September 2012 closure of the county-owned landfills in Powell and Clark and ultimate consolidation to one Cody landfill are results of new state water quality regulations; Meeteetse's landfill closed in June.

While September 2012 may sound a long way away, permitting for a Powell transfer station could take between a year and a year and a half, said Powell Mayor Scott Mangold.

“We can't wait,” Mangold said at a Nov. 17 meeting with Park County, Cody and Meeteetse officials. “We've got to get everything together now.”

Powell officials contend a transfer station is the best option for the city, while county officials have said directly hauling trash to Cody is the most cost-efficient option.

If the city of Powell directly hauled to Cody, the annual additional cost would be around $121,000, said city of Powell Public Services Manager Gary Butts. With a transfer station, with loads hauled to Cody by a private contractor, the annual added operating costs would be around $66,900.

“That seems to be our best option,” said Butts, qualifying, “If we get the transfer station.”

The qualifier is important. The city's estimates do not include the estimated $1.23 million cost to construct a transfer station.

The city is hoping to get funding from the state.

Powell submitted a nearly $1 million grant request to the State Loan and Investment Board in September, but Mangold said that request has been denied. He said the city intends to learn what was wrong with the application and re-apply.

With a $1.23 million transfer station in place, Powell garbage customers would save roughly $1.1 million in the first 20 years, thanks to lower annual operating costs, Butts said.

City officials have unsuccessfully lobbied county commissioners to create and operate a transfer station network.

“How many times have I said, ‘Are we going to do this together or are we going to do this separate?'” said Powell City Administrator Zane Logan at the meeting. Logan said the county has an opportunity to provide leadership by creating a county-wide garbage hauling system.

Commissioner Dave Burke, who has been the lone commissioner to support a transfer station network, said county and municipal leaders should sit down and start talking about options.

“Park County should start looking a little more seriously at what Powell is willing to offer,” he said, adding, “We've been off in our little corners for too long.”

However, the rest of the current County Commission has resisted the idea of constructing any transfer stations or operating a garbage hauling network across the county. Commissioners have said they do not want to get into the hauling business. They have also cited numbers from a 2009 waste management plan that found when initial construction costs are factored in, transfer stations are more expensive.

“A transfer station does not pay. It's not economical,” said Commission Chairman Jill Shockley Siggins, saying a station was an added cost “when it's cheaper to do direct hauling.”

When Councilman John Wetzel said the citizens of Powell want a transfer station, Siggins said that was “because the leadership has been saying you have to have it.”

Rather than build a Powell transfer station, commissioners have said they will aid Powell by helping offset their direct hauling costs. That would be done by charging the city of Cody higher rates and using the money to subsidize Powell's hauling costs; that's based on the fact that Cody's rates would be roughly 10 percent higher if Powell took its 5,000 tons of household waste elsewhere.

Commissioner-elect Loren Grosskopf said representatives from the county and the cities should sit down and hammer out the numbers about transfer stations vs. direct hauling. Grosskopf said the numbers should be the easiest part of the landfill problem to figure out.

Cody Mayor Nancy Tia Brown said a plan “doesn't have to be the cheapest to be the best option.”

“Maybe it even isn't about money,” said Brown.

Powell officials say a transfer station would reduce the annual number of Powell-Cody truck trips from around 750 a year to just more than 200, improving highway safety.

Mangold also pointed to the experience so far of Meeteetse, whose landfill closed in late June.

Meeteetse's Public Works Director, Dan Talkington, said the time spent on the regular trash collection route has roughly doubled.

The town's trash truck is not built for high speed highway hauling, maxing out at around 50 to 55 miles per hour, Talkington said.

“And that highway just beats you to death,” he said.

Meeteetse is seeking to buy a compaction trailer to hold its waste. Talkington estimated the cost of purchasing and setting up a trailer at somewhere around $200,000.

A compaction trailer would be hauled to the Cody landfill once a month, down from two to three Cody trips a week under the present set up.

“It (a compaction trailer) would make quite a bit of difference time-wise to us,” said Meeteetse Mayor Andy Abbott.

The government officials gathered at the meeting agreed to create a task force of Park County, Powell, Cody and Meeteetse representatives to look at landfill options. The group plans to meet in January when new commissioners Grosskopf and Joe Tilden take office.