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Landfill plan vote set for May 21

Waste Management says all it needs is extra equipment for extra garbage

Published: Thursday, May 8, 2014 11:43 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, May 9, 2014 12:22 p.m. CDT
Caption
Jeff Metzger
Caption
Mark Pietrowski Jr.

SYCAMORE – The only thing Waste Management said it needs in order to take in an additional 500 tons of trash a day starting in August is more equipment.

Waste Management Director of Operations Dale Hoekstra said the company needs standard equipment used to compact waste in order to speed the process of taking in more trash.

Initially, Waste Management had planned to begin taking in the extra trash, which is expected to generate money for the county through a tipping fee, on Jan. 1, 2015.

DeKalb County’s finance committee discussed Monday the possibility of moving that date up to Aug. 1 in order to get a head start on raising funds needed for the county jail expansion project.

Some County Board members who were not at the finance committee meeting said they support bringing in extra trash Aug. 1, but Mark Pietrowski Jr., a Cortland Democrat from District 3, isn’t convinced yet it is the best idea.

Although Pietrowski is not part of the finance committee, he attended the meeting Monday to listen to Waste Management’s representatives.

Pietrowski questioned whether the company is ready to take in the additional trash because it does not yet have the necessary permits.

“Waiting until they get the permits is the best thing to do unless they can assure the necessary infrastructure is in place,” Pietrowski said. “I don’t know if they can do that without permits.”

Waste Management must submit an operational permit request to the Environmental Protection Agency, Hoekstra said, whose review process can take 90 days.

Waste Management could accept an additional 500 tons of trash a day on top of the 300 tons it already is accepting. The additional trash would generate about $70,000 a month through December if it is approved May 21 by County Board members.

Although the host agreement considered by the committee said Waste Management would begin accepting waste from outside the county, about 13 percent of the waste stream at the landfill already comes from outside DeKalb County, Hoekstra said. Under the amended agreement with the county, the company would be allowed to take in more than the established amount of 300 tons a day until Jan. 1

On Jan. 1, Waste Management would be required to bring in at least 375,000 tons of trash a year with a maximum of 500,000 tons.

County Board members are expected to vote on the amended host agreement May 21. The board’s executive committee will discuss the proposal Tuesday.

“We’ve always taken [trash] from outside counties,” Hoekstra said. “It’s just at a higher level now than it was before.”

Jeff Whelan, a Republican from District 10, has not recently driven past the landfill, but he said he would support taking in more trash if Waste Management is ready.

“I don’t believe they’re ready quite yet,” Whelan said. “They’ve been working for several months to get ready for an increase in waste. Right now, I don’t know if they’re ready yet.”

Other County Board members who were not at the finance committee meeting thought it was a good idea to add the extra trash earlier.

John Gudmunson, a Somonauk Republican from District 11, said it would be more feasible to start bringing in more trash in the summer when the weather is warmer.

“If they can generate more money toward the jail [expansion], I think they have to,” he said.

Jeff Metzger, County Board chairman, said he’s in favor of bringing the trash in earlier. He made sure nearby Cortland Elementary School has the most updated technology to monitor any gas in the air.

Students and staff at Cortland Elementary School were sickened Jan. 14 by an odor from the landfill.

“I don’t think we’ll have any problems,” Metzger said.

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