Putnam opens up possibility of out-of-county trash

Sale of Putnam County Central Landfill not an option, according to documents

More than three years after county commissioners voted to not sell the Putnam County Central Landfill, the county has issued a request for proposals for the operation of the landfill.

The Board of County Commissioners granted approval to distribute the request during a transportation workshop Tuesday.

While the county is open to different management options in the responses it gets, but the sale of the landfill is not on the table, according to county documents.

“The county will entertain proposals to manage the landfill operations and/or lease of the landfill,” the request for proposals states. “Sale of the landfill is not an option. Proposals may include viable options for alternate methods of disposal and/or acceptance of Class I waste from other governments/entities.”

County Administrator Terry Suggs said proposals could be for a variety of ideas, including having officials show Putnam new, more efficient ways to run the landfill or someone leasing it.

“It runs the whole gamut for what it is we’re trying to get assistance with,” Suggs said.

The commission does not want to operate by the status quo or for the sake of tradition, which is why board members are seeking proposals, Suggs said.

County Commissioner Chip Laibl said if the county selects a proposal to keep landfill operations in Putnam, there needs to be a plan to bring in more waste.

In 2014, when the county sought to sell the landfill, commissioners and sanitation officials said the landfill brings in about 200 tons of waste per day. Since then, a solid waste committee recommended an addition 400 tons per day be brought into the landfill to make it fiscally sustainable.

“We’re hoping to get just Class I household garbage proposals,” said Laibl, who in 2014 voted to sell the landfill. “If we had a bit more tonnage, that would help us.”

According to county documents, proposals are due to the county 2:30 p.m. Feb. 28. A non-mandatory pre-proposal conference will be 10 a.m. Feb. 12.

Laibl said commissioners are looking for a variety of options when the county receives proposals. Those options could include creating a weigh station or transfer station at the landfill or having a plan to secure waste from another county.

In July 2014, after almost a year of meetings, workshop and passionate public comments in favor of and against selling the landfill, commissioners voted 3-2 to maintain ownership of the facility.

The next month, solid waste assessments skyrocketed as county officials scrambled to find ways to pay for landfill operations. The current annual assessment for households in Crescent City and Palatka is $221, and households in unincorporated areas of the county are paying $332 this fiscal year.

Laibl said if a proposal is selected and it involves bringing in more waste, he hopes the selected company would have a plan to bring in waste from other counties.

Large sanitation companies – like Republic Services of Florida, which was the company in 2014 hoping to buy the landfill for $25 million – have entered into contracts with many counties throughout the state to haul their waste.

But there are nearby counties Laibl hopes will do business with Putnam as a result of proposal, the county could approve.

“If we could make a deal with Flagler, St. Johns and Clay (counties) to get additional tonnage in the landfill, it could lower our assessments,” Laibl said.

Palatka Daily News

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