Indicating they wanted to move forward with a solid waste authority, the Newton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) instructed Attorney Megan Martin of Jarrard and Davis Law Firm, the county’s interim attorneys, to reactivate a 1995 resolution creating one.
The BOC could not vote on the creation or reactivation of the resolution at the Jan. 12 work session, but asked Martin to bring back a resolution reactivating the solid waste authority, making some updates, to its regular meeting on Thursday, Jan. 21.
1995 Solid Waste Management Authority resolution
The original resolution signed in October 1995, and later amended in December, creating the authority under the Regional Solid Waste Management Authorities Act of 1990 (see the act online as amended in 2004 at http://www1.gadnr.org/eac/Documents/SWACT2004.pdf).
The resolution appointed the first Board of Directors, six residents of the county. Each commissioner appointed a director from their district and the sixth appointed member would serve as chair. Those appointed were Davis Morgan, Tommy Ballard, Virgil Costley, Bill Hardy, Al Cook and Bond Fleming.
The directors would serve four-year terms, but could be reappointed. All served at the “pleasure of the Commission, subject to the limitation that the term of office for each director shall end upon the end of the appointing Commissioner’s term of elected office.”
“The Authority is inactive and is not identified by the State Department of Community Affairs as being an ‘active” authority’.” said Attorney Megan Martin later. “That means that we will have to reactivate the Authority as detailed on Tuesday night [at the work session].”
Martin is a partner with the county’s interim legal firm, Jarrard and Davis, LLC. The firm, she said, will assist the BOC in deciding what steps will be taken next in preparing the resolution reactivating the authority.
After a brief discussion at the work session, the BOC came to consensus that the authority’s board of directors should consist of nine members, and include two commissioners, three citizens, and representatives from Porterdale, Covington and the Spring Hill community, the residential area closest to the landfill.
Pros and cons of an authority
During the work session, Wayne Haynie, chair of the Citizen’s Committee on Solid Waste Management, addressed the BOC, reviewing the pros and cons of a solid waste authority.
“The solid waste authority would be modeled on the successful Newton County Water and Sewer Authority,” he told the board.
Haynie said the benefits would include transparency, since the authority would have to follow rules and policies set by the legislature governing authorities. He also said there would be representation from the Spring Hill Community on the board, protection of the environment, and financial stewardship.
Other advantages included the creation of an independent board and the hiring of professional staff members who would run the authority as a business.”
Disadvantages would be adding another layer of government. “We tend to be a fiscally conservative county,” he said. “Again, the authority would be lean and run efficiently.
He also told the board there would need to be financial support from the board and initial funding, which can include low-interest loans from the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority. But, he added, revenues would “drive the solid waste authority. Every ton of waste would have to cross the scales.”
Haynie then encouraged the BOC to think as citizens when considering how to move forward.
District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz asked Hayne to suggest a realistic timeframe for getting a solid waste authority operating.
“We have to get a management structure in place,” Haynie responded. “A year, perhaps. You’ve got to give it time.”
District 1 Commissioner John Douglas said he was “ready to pull the trigger on this thing” and give the attorney the go ahead to bring a reactivation and updated resolution back to the BOC.
Martin said the reactivated resolution could be brought back to the commissioners for its Jan. 21 meeting, making it clear who serves. The authority, she said, would be responsible to set its goals and visions once its board of directors was in place.