The Newton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) voted March 21 to send its intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the Solid Waste Authority (SWA) back to the joint BOC/SWA subcommittee for further revision.
The board had voted earlier in the meeting to rescind the RFPQI initiated by the BOC in March 2016 soliciting a bid to provide solid waste services to unincorporated areas of the county.
The revised IGA had been worked on during a joint subcommittee meeting March 14. Subsequent to that meeting, according to attorney Sam VanVolkenburgh, there was an email exchange with further proposed revisions.
“The Solid Waste Authority met on Thursday (March 16) and approved a revised IGA amendment document with a couple of key changes to what was initially proposed after the subcommittee meeting,” VanVolkenburgh said.
VanVolkenburgh went on caution the commissioners that due to a tight deadline, any further revisions suggested by the BOC would require a quick consideration and approval by the SWA.
Commissioner Ronnie Cowan, a member of the subcommittee, told the board he could not, in good faith, advise anybody to agree to the terms of the new IGA. He said that rescinding the RFPQ and removing the idea of mandatory curbside service from the discussion was helpful.
“We still have some issues over there that we are in disagreement on,” Cowan said. “We want to get it right before we sign it.”
Commissioner Nancy Schulz, who is also a member of the SWA, said she thinks that both parties are very close. She said she also has some concerns that she would like more clarity on. She, too, agreed that rescinding the March 2016 bid request will be helpful.
“I believe that the action we took earlier tonight does give the public the confidence that the Advanced contract is now off the table because we have removed that RFQPI,” Schulz said.
She said it is important the board communicates its confidence in the SWA and everybody understands that actions taken by the board are to protect Newton County.
Commissioners Stan Edwards and Lanier Sims spoke in favor of keeping convenience centers open. Both also suggested that the public should be charged enough to use the centers for the county to at least break even.
“The citizens, the ones that I’ve talked to, understand that free trash is over. Convenience centers, curbside and landfill,” Edwards said. “I’ve said all along charge enough so we, at a minimum, break even at the convenience centers.”
“Many citizens do love the convenience centers, but we have to charge an appropriate price to cover those costs or at least get us close to break even,” Sims said.
Cowan said it important in the final plan to find a way to utilize local haulers and find a place for the convenience centers.
County Manager Lloyd Kerr suggested the commissioners make their priorities for the agreement known to the subcommittee in order to expedite the process.
The vote to return the IGA to the subcommittee was approved 5-0.