COVINGTON, Ga. - Newton County Solid Waste Manager Kevin Walter detailed cost cutting measures and revenue raising ideas to help the Solid Waste Management Authority trim or erase a projected budget shortfall of $1.25 million for FY 2018
Walter briefed the authority last month on the potential for the shortfall citing fewer hangtags than projected being sold and less revenue being generated from trash coming across the scales at the landfill. Also looming over the budget are interest and principle payments on the authority’s recently issued bonds.
Among the suggestions Walter made at Wednesday’s meeting was eliminating unfilled positions at the landfill and selling off the county’s five closed convenience centers. He said at their current value, the sale of the closed centers would generate $253,000.
Member Linda Hanna voiced concerns about selling the convenience centers to raise money for day to day operations.
“We need to make changes that are sustainable,” she said.
Member Buddy Morgan agreed with Hanna.
“I think it would be premature to sell these convenience centers off,” he said.
Morgan also voiced skepticism that selling the centers would raise $253,000.
“I don’t believe that these parcels would bring anywhere close to the $253,000 that their appraised at on the books,” he said,” As bad as we need money, I think it would be premature to let these things go.”
Walter also suggested raising the tipping fee for dumping trash at the landfill from $39 to $42 a ton, asking the Board of Commissioners for an additional $500,000 and asking the BOC to consider changing a county ordinance that prohibits waste from outside Newton County being dumped in the landfill.
Speaking of the ordinance Walter said, “I think to start with, the feeling was that instead of this being a 260 ton a day landfill this landfill would be 1,000 tons a day and the county leaders and residents didn’t want that.
“Years ago I think that was the fear, that there would be waste from DeKalb or Fulton Counties coming here. And of course, none of us want that and I’m not suggesting that. But if the ordinance was made more flexible - and the Board of Commissioners controls that ordinance - then the authority could determine on a case by case basis what, if any, outside of the county waste would be acceptable.”
Walter said his goal would be to raise tonnage by 10 to 20 percent.
“Increasing the volume 10 to 20 percent would greatly help our balance sheet,” he said.
Authority Chairman Phil Wise suggested there may already be some out of county trash being dumped at the landfill by local haulers who pick up in Newton County as well as neighborhoods just outside it.
“I’m pretty sure that we probably get some trash from out of the county anyway,” he said, “If I’m driving a truck or hauling and I’ve got my truck right in the area and I can go across the line and pick up two or three to complete that neighborhood, I’m not going to go around and separate out.”
Authority members took no action on the ordinance change or on the request by Walter to ask the Board of Commissioners for an additional $500,000, asking instead that Walter provide them with a current financial report.
Authority member and District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz said she was not ready to take action on any proposals until she saw the latest financial reports.
“I would be very clear on my viewpoint,” she said, “I’m not ready to receive that information on the Board of Commissioners side until I know that on the solid waste side we have received an updated financial statement and we are clear.
“I need to see what those financials look like.”
Walter agreed to prepare both the ordinance change proposal and updated financial statements for the authority’s Jan. 2018 meeting.
Members also elected officers who will lead the authority in 2018.
Phil Wise, who assumed the SWMA chairmanship in June after the resignation of Wayne Haynie agreed to continue in that role for the coming year and was unanimously reelected.
Members Kent Campbell and Linda Hanna were each unanimously elected to serve as Vice Chairman and Treasurer respectively. Laurie Riley was elected to continue as SWMA Secretary.