Tuesday, Nov. 06 2012 3:20PM
Council dumps new landfill
Transfer station may provide option for trash disposal
by Russ Pulley
Lee’s Summit has officially reversed directions on building a new city dump.
The City Council on Nov. 1 passed a resolution which said the city does not intend to open a new municipal landfill once its current facility closes. The resolution was sent to the council by the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
Lee’s Summit’s landfill is expected to run out of space between 2017 and 2020 and officials are working on the next steps for solid waste disposal.
A city-appointed task force in 2006 recommended the city build another landfill and City Council directed city staff to work on a second landfill. The city hired a consultant to find locations and suggest a plan for operating a regional facility. Talks were ongoing over two possible sites in Cass County and creating a consortium to jointly own and operate that landfill.
But the City Council has changed members. And a fears of a shortage of landfill space proved to be unfounded.
Still, under consideration by the city is the possibility of a transfer station for a local site so residents can drop off trash to be packed onto large trucks and hauled to a landfill. The city will look at how to fund programs subsidized by the landfill, such as recycling centers or yard waste composting. It also is seeking proposals from private landfill operators to operate the city’s current facility until closure.
Council members Ed Cockrell and Kathy Hofmann voted against the resolution, Derek Holland was absent, and the other members voted yes. The vote was made with no councilmember any comments on the issue.
Hofmann, in an interview, said she voted no because there are numerous residents who want the city to continue having it’s own landfill. She said residents in her district would like to see the city to take more steps to decrease the cost of trash disposal. Hofmann said that because District 1 has few active homeowner associations, and so no access to group rates, trash disposal is higher for many District 1 residents.
She also noted that a vocal minority of residents torpedoed an earlier effort to create a single-hauler plan proposed by the city.
After a very public spat over freedom to pick a trash hauler, the council simply dropped the issue without any formal decision, she said.
Hofmann said she thinks that without its own landfill as an alternative, residents will be paying “megabucks” to get rid of trash once it is being hauled to Kansas or Warrensburg.
“I don’t think we know what we’re going to do,” Hofmann said. “I don’t think we have a clue.”
Hofmann also said she disagrees with the amount of control council members have started to delegate to committees.
“It is a way to block any kind of changes of mind,” Hofmann said.
Councilmember Rob Binney, the other District 1 representative, said the committee heard testimony from haulers, landfill operators and government officials who said “there are a lot of resources out there already available for landfills.”
Binney, a member of the environment committee, said making a regional landfill competitive with private companies requires all the waste collected in Lee’s Summit and the Cass County cities to go into that landfill.
He said the cities had been in talks with Lee’s Summit about creating a cooperative to build the landfill, but weren’t committed to putting it in their area or requiring trash haulers to dump in the consortium-owned landfill.
“If you don’t have the trash flow to pay for it, it doesn’t do any good,” Binney said.