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BOC names new Solid Waste Authority board
newton county seal web

The Newton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) named seven out of the eight members to the Solid Waste Management Authority (SWMA) Board of Directors Tuesday.

The members are: District 2 Commissioner Lanier Sims; District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz; Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston; Wayne Haynie and Bob Stafford, both members of the citizen’s committee on solid waste and Spring Hill community resident Sharon Sawyer.

The eighth, and final, member of the SWMA’s board will be selected by Schulz from the Spring Hill community during the March 15 meeting, after she has time to discuss her appointment with members from that community.

The BOC decided Tuesday night on an eight-person board of directors for the SWMA after Chair Keith Ellis’s recommendation. Ellis sited the fact that the chair, who would be chosen by the board of directors, would not have a vote, leaving the chance for a tie that could not be broken.

The BOC had discussed organizing a nine-person board of directors since a SWMA was recommended by the citizen’s committee, with two members coming from the Spring Hill community.

A solid waste authority was formed in Newton County on Oct. 17, 1995 and activated on Dec. 5, 1995. That board went dormant, and was reactivated on Jan. 21, 2016.

Georgia law states that the authority must have at least five directors, with at least three coming from the county or municipal corporation’s governing body, according to a presentation made by interim county attorney Megan Martin.

The discussion of the work done by that authority came to a head Tuesday, with commissioners finally taking action and voting. The voting followed a work session held an hour before the 7 p.m. regular meeting. The hour \wasn’t enough, though, for the BOC to come to a conclusion on its discussion and a motion was made to add solid waste discussion to the regular meeting agenda.

“I’m concerned we’re going to let another meeting go by and do nothing,” Douglas said. “We sit up here and say ‘We need to do this, we need to do that.’ And we go home and don’t do a dadgum thing.

“Why don’t we appoint people who are smart enough to grasp the concept and let them go and let them do it, and be done with it?” he said.

Being an item that was discussed in a regular meeting, rather than a work session, action, in the form of a motion, could be taken on the topic.
Douglas made the first motion by nominating the BOC chair, which was seconded by District 4 Commissioner J.C. Henderson. He then made a second motion to appoint Stafford to the SWMA board. Henderson selected Sawyer.

When Ellis asked Sims who would be the selection from District 2, the commissioner commented on the board of directors having someone from the city of Covington.

“I have not heard anybody put our biggest customer on this board,” Sims said. “My biggest fear is them not having a seat on that board and them taking that [trash] volume away from us. They have had talks with people nearby about taking their trash there.”

The BOC then took a recess for Sims to speak with Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston, who was in the audience.

Following the recess, Schulz brought up her appointment before Ellis could go back to Sims on appointing Johnston.

“I would like to name my designee from the Spring Hill community,” Schulz said. “I would like to set up a meeting with the Spring Hill community to determine who that designee is.”

The final appointment will come during the BOC’s next meeting, March 15.

After that appointment is made, the eight-member board of directors would be required to name a chair, vice-chair, secretary and treasurer, or secretary-treasurer, according to Martin.

She said the directors would serve without compensation, with the exception of reimbursements for expenses incurred during performance of duties.

The authority would then hire employees and appoint an executive director.

Martin read the list of powers the SWMA would possess, including the:

-ability to bring and defend actions;
- adopt and amend a corporate seal;
-authority to acquire, construct, improve, modify, and operate projects in the county;
-authorization to purchase or condemnation a property for public use or receive it by gift, grant or lease necessary for its corporate purpose. The title of any property held by the Authority is exclusively for the benefit of the public;
- authorization to contract for the use of real or personal property in any manner the Authority deems to be the best advantage of itself;
- power to borrow money and to issue its revenue bonds and bond anticipation notes to for all or part of the cost of any project;
- procedure for the issuance of bonds and notes
- right to bill fees or levy a tax on persons who receive services.

Martin detailed the list of financial obligations that would be due from the SWMA because of current state of Newton County’s landfill. In order to meet requirements of a consent order presented by the Environmental Protection District (EPD), it is anticipated the cost of repair the lined site 2 holding cell will be $5.5 million. Another estimated $10,000,000 is expected for remediation efforts.

However, the revenue potential of the landfill is expected to be as much as $275,000,000 over the landfill’s 85 years of life.

“The cost of all repairs are approximately 5.6 percent of anticipated total revenues,” Martin said. “While we’re talking big dollars, over the life of the landfill, it appears to be fractional.”