WILMINGTON — The solid waste committee of Wilmington council discussed whether it will expand, or close, the city’s landfill.
Committee chair Joe Spicer said determining the future of the landfill was his top priority for the year.
“We’ve got a time frame here that we’re dealing with,” said Spicer. “This is something that we need to stay on top of and move forward because it’s not something we can do overnight.”
The committee, which can recommend legislative action to council, took no official action. Wilmington Sanitation Superintendent Braden Dunham said council’s approval is required before the landfill could be expanded, and the current landfill has about six years of use left, according to Dunham.
Spicer said he wants to discuss the topic at future solid waste committee meetings to further the discussion.
He also said that his interactions with the public indicate residents are split, with half urging him to close it and half urging him to keep it. “I don’t want a Mount Rumpke in my city,” he said, referring to Rumpke Sanitary Landfill in Hamilton County.
Whether to expand needs to be decided soon, Dunham said, due to the time needed — in years — to get permits for an expansion.
Whether council chooses to expand or close, the current landfill cell won’t get more than a few feet higher as employees prepare to cap and close it, according to Dunham. A new cell would have to be made behind the current one if council chose to expand the landfill.
Dunham gave the committee “worst-case numbers,” estimating costs of $1.9 million to cap the current landfill and $2.5 million for 30 years of long-term care, including monitoring. Dunham said landfill workers have already taken steps to reduce those costs.
Marian Miller, executive assistant to Wilmington Mayor John Stanforth, said capping and closing that landfill cell must be done, and those costs can’t be avoided.
“We’ve never really prepared for this,” Dunham said, adding that it’s time to search for grants and consider a rate increase of about $2 to $3 for residential users and $2 to $3 per cubic yard for commercial ratepayers.
Dunham also suggested that the landfill charge for services currently rendered for free or almost free. For instance, he said, city recyclers pay one penny per month for recycling despite thousands of dollars of overhead.
“Anything that we can do to absorb that overhead at least would, at the end of the year, drastically affect our bottom line,” Dunham said.
Miller said a commercial recycling charge would make sense because commercial recycling removes cubic yards of solid waste, and therefore reduces potential waste earnings. Dunham said many commercial users previously said they wouldn’t be interested in participating if they had to pay.
Dunham said he doesn’t believe it would be worth upgrading the fleet of three-man trucks to one-man trucks if they’re going to cap the landfill in about six years.
Spicer agreed, but Wilmington Mayor John Stanforth said they could still collect and haul garbage even if they didn’t have a landfill. Dunham said it would be difficult to predict if the city could do so six years from now.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.