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Council spends $1M more on landfill
Apr 24, 2006 12:00 am
April 19, 2006 Lebanon city councilors begrudgingly forked over an additional $1 million to cleanup the Wilson County Landfill amid a city official's insistence on the necessity of the project.
The $1 million is being added on to the $2.4 million already appropriated to the Landfill Remediation Project, which was necessary to stop leachate from draining into the ground. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation cited the city for the leachate and ordered the city and Wilson County to fix the problem.
Leachate comes from water filtered down through a landfill that picks up dissolved materials from decomposing wastes and possibly enters groundwater.
While the measure was approved on a 4-2 vote Tuesday, councilors raised concerns about the fluid nature of the costs as well as whether Wilson County should do more to pay for the state-mandated cleanup.
Saying he thought the scope of the project was nearly under control, Public Works Commissioner Jeff Baines said the Landfill Remediation Project is "a work in progress.
"I apologize, but it's something we have to do," Baines said of the $1 million appropriation from the city's general fund.
"I was under the impression … that we had a better handle on what we've got," Ward 3 Councilor William Farmer said. "… I'm not comfortable with that."
But when Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Huddleston asked what the Council's other options were, Baines and several other councilors replied almost in unison, "We don't have any," with Baines saying the city would face "severe fines" if the problem was not addressed soon.
"You get to digging, you don't know for sure the extent of what you're going to find," Baines said regarding what he described in Monday's Lebanon Democrat as a "major additional leachate seal."
"We can't stop," Baines told councilors. "That's not an option for us … we need to approve this and we need to move forward."
Baines explained he expected the project to last another four to six months "at the most."
About $300,000 of the appropriation will also go to clean up a environmental refuse site at which the city had been dumping woodchips and other organic material, Baines said.
Farmer along with Ward 6 Councilor Kathy Warmath voted against the measure with Warmath saying she wanted more of a contribution from Wilson County, which took over the landfill from the city more than a decade ago.
"I think it's sending a mixed signal," Warmath said. "The city did not create that problem by itself … and I think the county needs to pay their fair share."
In other business, city councilors approved $100,000 in additional funds for fuel to cover rising gasoline prices. Finance Commissioner Hal Bittinger said the city's fuel budget was $250,000, but a 60-percent jump in prices after Hurricane Katrina and subsequent price fluctuations have caused the city to go 35 percent over budget for gasoline for city vehicles.
Councilors also narrowly voted to approve on second reading a measure quadrupling the city's Sewer Capacity Fee from $500 to $2,000. Councilors were split 3-3 before Mayor Don Fox broke the tie and affirmed the increases.
Bittinger had told councilors in a prior work session the increases would be necessary to cover a multimillion dollar sewer rehabilitation project. Even with this fee increase, Bittinger said, councilors would still likely need to raise water and sewer rates at some point.
A development on Highway 231 called The Villages of Hunters Point, also known as the Thackston Property, was deferred.
Staff Writer Jason Cox can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 45 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.