Private sector poised to take over trash business in Grand County
May 21, 2009
Waste Management District Manager Bud Hall said company officials accept that the company won’t have the chance to manage a county-owned transfer station.
Waste Management was picked to manage a proposed Grand County transfer station, but negotiations broke down when the county learned how much the deal would cost taxpayers, according to County Manager Lurline Underbrink Curran.
After a meeting on Tuesday that rendered the county out of the trash-disposal business, commissioners and the manager commented how the transfer-station process steered the county toward a privatized solution.
“I agree the county can’t afford to have two transfer stations,” Hall said at the commissioners table, “and we have no intention ” especially if Waste Connections is going to build a transfer station ” to be in that business also. And we will certainly entertain talking to Waste Connections to use its transfer station … Otherwise, we’ll find an (alternate) disposal site.”
Waste Connections of Colorado Inc., parent to the Trash Company, was in prime position to convince commissioners on Tuesday that private trash haulers in the county were ready to take the reins.
Waste Connections plans to build an 8,100-square-foot building near the intersection of Highway 40 and 34 on two acres of commercial-zoned property in Granby.
Ryan Wurgler, vice president of Waste Connection’s Western Division, said the company plans to lease property elsewhere to store equipment, thereby accommodating space for a countywide transfer-station site on the two acres near the concrete plant.
“I believe there are a lot of benefits to us building in Granby,” Wurgler told commissioners. Among reasons such as being closer to the population center of the county, Wurgler said from an environmental standpoint, having a site in Granby rather than farther west would mean less truck emissions and use of fuel.
The county’s decision resolves the controversial Hot Sulphur Springs transfer station issue as well as a proposed county-owned transfer station at the Kremmling Landfill. Asked after the meeting, Wurgler said Waste Connections has no intention of leasing the Hot Sulphur Springs site owned by the county for any of its operations.
During the hearing, commissioners sought clarification from Wurgler that the company was willing to provide trash disposal for the entire county, not just its own customers. Wurgler responded “yes,” that the company would accommodate all trash in the county.
“We would have it open to everyone, because we would need everyone to make it a viable solution,” he said. The site would also accept construction and demolition waste, he said.
Wurgler asked for reassurance from the county that Grand County wouldn’t build a competing facility in the future, as long as Waste Connections “is holding up (its) end of the bargain.”
County officials clarified that although the county wouldn’t try to compete, it had no controls ” nor did it want any ” on another businesses hoping to compete.
“As soon as we can get it built,” Wurgler said when asked how long it might take for his company to replace county landfills with a transfer station, adding it may be in less than nine months.
Waste Connections plans to accept recycling from all haulers and other recyclers.
“We push single-stream recycling off to the side when customers bring it in, then when we get enough to fill a 110 yard transfer trailer, we push it into the trailer and take it down the hill and use one of three (recycling) facilities,” Wurgler said.
But Wurgler made it known: The days of free recycling in the county are about to end.
“It is currently costing us about $30 a ton to dispose of recycling, which is about double the cost of disposal if we put it in a hole. So understand there may be some sticker shock when it comes to recycling. I want to be straight up with that.”
Adding in fuel costs that come with trucking the material to the Denver area, Wurgler estimated it could cost consumers $105 to $110 a ton to dispose of recycling at Waste Connection’s future holding facility.
Disposal of trash may be set around $85 to $90 per ton.
County Manager Underbrink Curran said the county hopes to keep the Granby Landfill available during the transition, and when trash disposal is ready to be handed over, the county may mothball existing landfills.
The manager endorsed a county decision to turn over trash disposal to private enterprise.
“The people that are used to being in this business and have the history and the knowledge of being in this business would be doing this business,” she told commissioners, “so from a staff perspective, it’s a much more positive proposal than we were able to give you in April.
“We don’t see a downside in that. We gave you some concerns we had about running it totally. We were worried about contracting the trucking, and where it was going to go ” not only now but five years or 10 years from now. Where we had tried to keep control of it, it seemed that going that way took us out of control, and that was worrisome to us.”
The manager highlighted county benefits, primarily the chance to save the county at least $2 million in taxpayer money by not building a transfer station.
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