Tensions were high once again at the May 22 Fremont County landfill meeting, as the final vote was cast for the landfill’s future. The agenda stated, “discuss and vote on the future of the landfill”, which prompted a few members to question whether they were there to cast an official vote. The meeting required a motion to proceed with an actual vote. The meeting included a representative from every township in Fremont County, except for Imogene. Each delegate delivered the vote of their city’s official board, except for Randolph. Brian Hardy, representing Randolph said, “I’ve got [a board member] that works nights and one that drives a truck” adding that putting together a special meeting is “next to impossible”.
At the start of the meeting, Rick Barton, representing Riverton said, “I don’t think we’re ready to vote”. Tom Shull, chairman of the landfill board and representing Farragut, stressed the length of time that has been put into the issue. “We’ve had four months of this,” said Shull.
Each of one of the nine communities gets one vote. But since Imogene was not present, eight votes would be accepted.
A few board members moved forward with reports from their city council groups. “My council told me to work toward making a transfer station and not borrow any more money” said Kent Benefiel, representing Hamburg.
“The motion at Riverton’s meeting was ‘to continue looking for other options for the Fremont County landfill, but not to settle on LCRD’s proposal at this time” said Barton.
“Farragut would like to keep the landfill as it’s currently being managed” Tom Shull said, reading from his council’s minutes
Twila Potter, representing Thurman said, “Thurman wants to keep the landfill, they want to look into further options, other than a transfer station”.
Before the others had a chance to give an official statement, Earl Hendrickson, representing the county said, “Has anybody thought about where you are going to get the half million dollars to build the cell”. Shull stated they would look to fund the new cell from the same place they got it before, the county. “I don’t know that you’ll get it the same place you got it last time,” Hendrickson said, “The county backed it last time. The county has a five a half million dollar bond with the jail” and other expenses. “I don’t know if the county wants to go any deeper than what we are. I don’t know of any bank that is going to loan you half a million dollars”. Shull responded with, “You don’t know until you try.”
Joe Travis, representing Sidney, said Sidney’s council voted unanimous to keep the landfill. Randy Wirth, representing Tabor added, “the city of Tabor would like to see the landfill kept open”
As discussion went on, Benefiel stated he is doubtful the landfill would even stay open a week without city and county subsidies. “we are hanging our hat on emotions” and not reality, said Benefiel. Riverton resident Howard Shull added, “You’re also moving on the first opportunity, you haven’t looked at other opportunities”. In direct response, Benefiel said “I wish you could have been at a lot of these meanings” and defensively added “Don’t stand there and shake your finger at me”. He then asked Howard Shull how many meetings he had been to. Shull said he had attended one in March and one in May. “So you’ve been to two out of the ten [meetings], ok you’re up to speed, good enough” said Benefiel.
Landfill manager Casey Moser emphasized that the timing of the vote is crucial. “We can’t sit here all summer, we are going to run out of space”, said Moser.
Citizen Alice Hodde spoke up, “There is a lot of rumors out there that there are some people in this room that will benefit” from the landfill becoming a transfer station “and I think that needs to be out in the open” said Hodde. Benefiel said, “Who would benefit from it. Tell me the rumors, if it involves me, I’d like to know”. Hodde responded, “That you will benefit from towing”.
“I suppose I could benefit if a truck broke down, but I might benefit if their car broke down on their way to work too. If I benefit from the business that I do, I guess I shouldn’t be on this board”, said Benefiel. Hodde said, “I think it’s good to communicate, I think you need to know that there are rumors and they need to be taken care of”.
When a question came up about fees and how long rates were guaranteed, another argument developed between Benefiel and Tom Shull. Hardy interjected, “You know, this goes back to not being able to talk about it to see what the ten year [rate guarantee] entails. There’s third graders that get along better than this,” said Hardy.
Resident Dale Kirkpatrick added to the discussion. “If you guys don’t want to borrow half a million dollars for that cell, you’re going to pay for it anyway. That cell needs a liner to keep leaching out of the creek, or you are going to have the DNR to mess with” said Kirkpatrick. Moser added that the DNR fines would be $5000 a day, and that does not even include cleanup. “I have said all along that we need cell five, it shapes the hill” which is an important factor to prevent leaching, said Moser.
Jeff Kendall, CEO of Lewis Clark Recycling and Disposal, was on hand for questions. He wanted the board to understand time was running out. “I suggest that our offer is good for you to consider, through today. I don’t want to be hard to get along with, but we have been spending a lot of time, its time to bring it to a head” said Kendall adding, “I appreciate the time taken to consider our offer and I’m sorry it’s caused this divisiveness”.
Kendall also said that he does not think leaching will be a problem at the landfill. The proposal says LCRD would be responsible for 30 years, post closure. Any problems with the landfill during that period would be backed by a bonding firm, Evergreen National which would be bonded to the state of Iowa. “The risk of having an issue after closing is very low,” said Kendall.
There was a question about pre-existing conditions and how LCRD would handle that. “If some hazardous waste was put in there” that is determined to have been there before the proposed LCRD acquirement, “We’d have to certainly think about how’s the appropriate way to handle that, what is fair,” said Kendall. After he had answered questions, Kendall and a colleague exited the meeting to make voting more comfortable.
Rick Barton finally made a motion to not go forward with the current proposal offer from LCRD. The motion was seconded, and a roll call style vote was called.
Hendrickson questioned the wording of the motion saying the county supervisors “voted to put in a new cell, they didn’t vote to just not go with LCRD”. He finally voted to not go forward with LCRD.
Kent Benefiel also questioned the wording of the motion “I did not get an LCRD stipulation, Hamburg wants to go with looking into a transfer station, so I don’t know where I land.” Benefiel decided to abstain from the vote. It was explained to him that abstaining from voting equals a “no vote”. He argued, “No, that is not the way it works at our council meeting”. It was further explained that county votes work that way. “Well write me down however you want, I don’t care” Benefiel said.
The final vote:
Hardy, for Randolph: to go forward with LCRD proposal
Barton, for Riverton: to not go forward with LCRD proposal
Travis, for Sidney: to not go forward with LCRD proposal
Potter, for Thurman: to not go forward with LCRD proposal
Wirth, for Tabor: to not go forward with LCRD proposal
Shull, for Farragut: to not go forward with LCRD proposal
Benefiel, for Hamburg: abstain, equaling a vote to not go forward with LCRD proposal
Hendrickson for County: to not go forward with LCRD proposal
The motion carried to not go forward with LCRD proposal, with Randolph being the only community voting to move forward with LCRD proposal. The board had a quick discussion about the future of the landfill. The next step is to investigate funding for the new cell or possibly joining another county’s operation.