The citizens’ panel dedicated to reviewing the county’s solid waste management, including a potential lease agreement for the county landfill, met for the first time Wednesday night to lay the groundwork for what should prove to be two months of intense research and debate.
Wayne Haynie, who was elected as chair of the committee in light of County Manager Tom Garrett’s resignation, described the meeting as a “kickoff-slash-get acquainted” session for committee members.
“As a citizen, I feel obligated to step up and help,” said Haynie, who works as the regional water practice manager for Burns & McDonnell. “Some members of the committee have technical backgrounds, and we come from various parts of the county.”
The committee was formed by the Board of Commissioners in reaction to the public outcry that erupted when the lease agreement, part of a proposed settlement, went public earlier this year.
Under the settlement, the county would lease its landfill to a third party operator, Green Hill P3, and use the payments to buy adjacent land from the East Georgia Land & Development Company in order to prevent East Georgia from suing and constructing a private landfill. In order to make the landfill more profitable, Green Hill would increase daily disposal rates by four times and could apply to expand the landfill.
Sharon Sawyer, another committee member, said the first meeting helped her understand the nature of the lawsuit that the county lost, as well as the current problems plaguing the landfill. A Sawyer expressed particular concern for the residents of the area near the landfill, many of whom are elderly.
“We can’t move the landfill, but we can make it as safe as possible,” she said, adding that the prospect of expanding the landfill was “terrifying.”
The committee discussed what documents they would need to request, as well as the experts they would like to consult, including John Gardner of Smith Gardner, and John Poore of Lamar County, which runs a successful landfill.
The committee members are expecting to receive calls from experts at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, which has been contracted to facilitate the meetings for $12,500, before the next meeting, tentatively scheduled for May 7 at 1:30.