WILMINGTON — A public hearing is expected to be held March 17 in Wilmington Council chambers to present plans to expand the city landfill westward and to gather public input on what direction citizens want council to head.
“We’ve gotten some really good information as far as what we can do with the landfill,” said council member and solid waste and recycling committee chair Joe Spicer. “We’re going for a public hearing for the next council meeting. … We want input from the public on how to proceed forward. We have our ideas and wishes, but we need to hear from you folks.”
Spicer said he doesn’t want to sell it, “but it doesn’t mean we won’t entertain that if that’s what you folks want.”
In previous meetings, Spicer had said most people were either in favor of closing it or expanding it, but not many favored selling it to a company.
At a solid waste committee meeting before council, Sanitation Department Superintendent Braden Dunham said an engineer suggested what Braden calls “a piggyback landfill.”
“It’s a landfill cell that’s attached to the west slope of our current hill,” Dunham said. “It gets us out to the distance we need to meet that original west expansion.”
Instead of capping and closing the one landfill cell and building another one, Dunham said the “piggyback landfill” will make combine the current cell to the other one.
“That will eliminate the possible closure and full capping of the (current) cell,” Dunham told the committee.
A document Dunham provided claimed that eliminating that and the post-closure monitoring program would save $4.4 million dollars in closure costs.
Building the “piggyback,” which is about 5 or 6 acres of area, would cost about $2 million, according to Dunham, who said that was in “worst case numbers.” That cell would last for five years.
He said a lot of leachate collection and drainage work has to happen, but it will eliminate costs associated with expanding and excavation. In fact, Dunham said he received an $800,000 estimate for that expansion from an engineer.
The proposed expansion would give about 45 to 55 years of life, compared to about 5 years left for the current cell. As the piggyback itself settles, the current cell could still be used.
“Originally what we thought … was we were going to have to close this and start all over,” said Wilmington Safety and Service Director Brian Shidaker. “This allows us to connect them and not have to spend the $2 million to close this.”
“In five years, we have to do something huge,” Dunham said. “To prepare for that I came up with some” preliminary numbers for rate increases.
Those numbers call for increasing residential collection from $14.85 to $17 monthly; increasing recycling fees from 1 penny to $1.50 monthly; increasing commercial curbside collection by $4 per month to $21.22; increasing commercial collection to $13.61 per yard, a $4 increase and commercial dumpster rental costs by $2 per month for all sizes.
Dunham’s estimates projected raising revenue by $487,608 per year to pay for the expansion.
Shidaker said nearby cities and private companies charge more than the city currently does, and Spicer said the only alternative, hiring a private garbage hauler, would be very costly for citizens.
“If we have to go to a private hauler, the citizens, their bills’ going to increase by 50 percent to 75 percent,” Spicer said. “If we raise it $2 or $3 … I think it’s a better value for our citizens.”
Committee member Matt Purkey said he’s used private haulers before and said the service “is mediocre at best.”
Shidaker said closing the landfill would result in “dramatic increases” to rates.
“Even though I hate to see any kind of increase,” Spicer said, “we have to face reality.”
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.