County, city discuss landfill

The Randolph County Commission and Elkins city officials agreed Thursday to “open a line of communication” about the financially troubled Elkins-Randolph County Landfill – two weeks after the issue inspired heated comments from both sides.

Elkins Mayor Van Broughton thanked the county officials for allowing him to speak during Thursday’s County Commission meeting.

“As you know, the city if facing financial difficulties relating to the landfill,” Broughton said. “We really appreciate the opportunity to give you an overview of the current situation.

“I know that all of us want to be the best we can for the people we serve,” he said. “I hope that this is a beginning of ongoing communication between us.”

Elkins Treasurer Lisa Daniels-Smith then gave commissioners some details on the finances of the landfill, which was closed in September 2011.

“First I’d like to explain why a closed landfill needs money,” she said. “It has operating costs, loan payments and closure costs that must be paid. The current monthly amount is approximately $38,000.

“This amount does not provide for all the closure costs, which are estimated at $6 to $12 million. The city only has approximately $1.9 million set aside for closure activities.

“As you know, closure costs are associated with ongoing work to permanently cap and seal off the landfill as required by state and federal agencies,” Daniels-Smith said.

Elkins City Council voted 5-2 July 1 to approve on first reading a proposed ordinance that would raise sanitation rates to support the landfill.

During the July 1 meeting, Councilman Mark Scott said Randolph County should chip in funds to help stabilize the landfill’s financial situation because many county residents dumped their waste at the landfill during Free Days. Since the landfill has closed, county residents now dispose of their waste within city limits, Scott said.

“The city has become the Randolph County landfill … they’re dumping it in our dumpsters because there’s nowhere else to put it … the County Commission just kind of put the problem on us, and now we’re giving it to the residents, but not all the county residents, just our customers,” Scott is quoted as saying in the July 2 edition of The Inter-Mountain.

At the July 3 Randolph County Commission meeting, Commissioner Mike Taylor responded to Scott’s comments.

“For him (Scott) to make a statement like that … and to put it on the back of the commission is improper on his part,” Taylor said at the July 3 meeting. “On the one hand, the city is wanting our help. On the other hand, they’re wanting to point fingers.”

At Thursday’s meeting, however, both county and city officials expressed a willingness to work together on the landfill issue.

“I also look forward to continuing the conversation concerning the landfill and would love to hear any ideas or suggestions that you or anyone else might have,” Daniels-Smith said.

Taylor thanked Broughton and Daniels-Smith for their comments.

“After the last article in the paper, the county commission had indicated we would attend the City Council meeting tonight to try and open up a line of communication. The mayor and Lisa and (Elkins City Clerk) Sutton (Stokes) called and offered to come to our commission meeting today and I appreciate that,” Taylor said.

“I think it’s healthy for the city and I think it’s healthy for the county to open up a line of communication, to help keep us better informed of the issues and the trials and tribulations you’re facing with this.

“I know in a lengthy conversation I had with Lisa on the phone a couple days ago that the problems relative to the closing of the landfill are going to be very expensive,” Taylor said. “There’s no question about it. That’s something that we, as a community, both as a county and a city, need to try to do what we can do.

“I’m not sure how much we can help you but we obviously want to listen and be a part of some of your discussions or at least keep us in the loop with what’s going on, so we can help on our end, to see what we can do to help get this situation taken care of,” Taylor said.

“We will work with you and we will move forward in this endeavor.”