Disposal decision expected Monday

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 28, 2000

Vicksburg and Warren County officials appear poised to make a decision on which company will get the contract for disposal of solid waste after an existing contract expires June 1.

City and county officials plan to take votes on awarding a contract at scheduled meetings Monday. As a result of those votes, the local governments could face another lawsuit from a local company that has been trying to get the disposal business.

At an informal meeting Monday, there also appeared to be an emphasis to keep trucking all household-type waste out of the county. Two companies have sought to open new garbage landfills in the county, but both have had strong opposition.

Elected officials from the two governments have been working for several months in anticipation of the expiration of the contract. They advertised for proposals and received offers from two companies already involved with public contracts, BFI and Waste Management, and from Warren County Waste Disposal Inc., Twin Bridges Co. Inc., the City of Canton and the Tallulah-based Earth Friends Recycling.

After receiving the offers, Richard George, president of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, and North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young met with representatives of BFI and Waste Management.

“We asked them to make us their best, one-time offer,” George told members of the city and county boards Monday.

As a result of those talks, BFI dropped its offer from $34.47 per ton to $33.87 per ton, and Waste Management dropped its offer from $33 per ton to $31.50. The BFI offer had no escalator clause, but the Waste Management offer specified a price of $33.42 at the end of five years and $35.45 at the end of 10 years. The price is $35.48 per ton now.

Although it was not formally invited to the meeting, officials of Warren County Waste Disposal also cut its price to $27 per ton.

Also, George said, Waste Management said all of the waste collected from Vicksburg and Warren County would be disposed of in a Subtitle D landfill it owns outside Warren County, and it agreed to keep the transfer station open from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays for the convenience of local residents.

Although most of the discussion centered on BFI and Waste Management, Warren County Waste Disposal was mentioned.

“We aren’t keeping them from doing business with anyone they want,” George said. But, he said, Warren County Waste Disposal, a company owned by Billy Ewell, had not applied to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality for a permit to operate its proposed 10-acre landfill.

Responding to that, Paul Kelly Loyacono, a partner of Ewell’s and the company’s attorney, said the company plans to submit an application to DEQ for a construction permit for the first cell on Dec. 15, and company officials do not anticipate any trouble getting it and the operating permit.

He said if the company runs into a delay in completing the landfill, Warren County Waste Disposal has an agreement with Waste Management for disposal at one of that company’s landfills.

“We won’t have any other alternative. We’ll sue them,” Ewell said, describing Warren County Waste Disposal’s course of action if Monday’s vote goes against the company.

“We are doing all we can to see that the waste leaves Warren County,” George said in response to a question from District 2 Supervisor Michael Mayfield.

Presumably, if either large company gets the disposal contract, it could eventually use a Ewell landfill proposed for land south of Vicksburg or a Chickasaw Bluffs landfill proposed for north of Vicksburg.

After discussing the issue of making sure the solid waste leaves Warren County, Mayfield asked Randy Sherard, the county board’s attorney, to suggest wording that could be placed in the contract.

“If the company elects to dispose of the waste inside the boundaries of Warren County, the customer, Warren County and the City of Vicksburg, reserves the right to renegotiate the price to remove the transportation costs or to terminate the contract,” Sherard suggested, adding, “I suggest you go back to the companies and ask them if they have a problem with that.”

“If you write it that way, I don’t need to discuss this any more,” Mayfield said, indicating he favored taking Waste Management’s offer for a 10-year contract.

Pointing out that both the city and county boards will be meeting Monday, Mayor Robert Walker said, “It would be good if we take action the same day.”

“We hope to be ready to vote by Monday,” George said.

The boards asked Sherard and City Attorney Nancy Thomas to agree on the wording of a contract and then submit it to the boards for approval.

Sylvester Brown of Earth Friends Recycling said he is considering legal action. He was the low bidder twice and has been given no reason why city and county officials show no interest in his company’s offer.

“We are being passed over,” he said, adding that his company has not been called to meet with city and county officials to discuss its bid, which is lower than the renegotiated offers from the two national firms. “We have not been given due process,” Brown said, adding that his company has a proven performance record in Louisiana but does not make political campaign contributions.

He also said that although Earth Friends does not have a transfer station in Warren County or have the required Mississippi DEQ permit, neither would be a problem. “We could build a transfer station within 45 days,” he said, adding that the company’s on-staff engineers and other technical employees could get the needed permits without any problem.