Tuesday, Nov. 13 2012 5:52PM
Mayor vetos landfill decision
Rhoads said vote is premature without other plans in place
By Russ Pulley
Mayor Randy Rhoads vetoed a City Council resolution which says the city will not own a new landfill after it closes its present dump.
The City Council on Nov. 1 passed its resolution which contradicts a direction set by an earlier council in 2010 to work with a consortium of Cass County cities on building a regional landfill.
Rhoads vetoed this council’s resolution Nov. 7 and gave it a statement explaining his objection. Rhoads said he thought this year’s resolution was unclear.
He said if the current council’s intent is to stop city staff from working on the consortium, it would be better to rescind the earlier resolution passed in 2010.
Rhoads said he isn’t sure the city is “pursing ownership of a landfill” and a regional facility possibly could be modeled after the Little Blue Valley Sewer District.
The Little Blue Valley Sewer District owns and operates a wastewater treatment plant in Jackson County, independent of cities it serves, but mayors are included as representatives on its trustee board.
Lee’s Summit sends its sewage to the plant, paying fees to the district, but does not own the facility.
Rhoads said that without the consortium, the city would have only two practical options, building a transfer station or leave solid waste disposal entirely up to haulers.
He said he thinks the city shouldn’t limit its choices until it has a definite long-term plan in place.
“It’s a little premature at this time,” Rhoads said. “That may be where we end up, and that’s fine, but I don’t know if this is the time to make that decision.
“I’m not saying we need to own a landfill.”
The city’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee recently held meetings where it discussed the direction of the city landfill and recycling programs.
The committee heard testimony from haulers and landfill owners that there is sufficient space in private landfills to meet the area’s needs for many years.
Councilmember Bob Johnson, committee chairman, proposed the resolution which was drafted by city staff, and the committee recommended it be adopted.
“(The veto) came so late, I’m surprised,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he could support rescinding the 2012 resolution and wouldn’t seek to override the veto. He said that with Councilmember David Mosby on an extended absence because of his work, he did not think there would be enough votes.
Johnson said he thinks opening transfer station, once Lee’s Summit’s current landfill closes, is the city’s best course because it avoids long-term liability and post-closure costs of another landfill.
The city is still deciding what to do about recycling programs and also is considering whether to use a private firm to manage the current landfill until it closes sometime this decade.
A transfer station would be a facility where haulers and residents can dump trash to be loaded onto large trucks and hauled away for disposal.