By AMANDA KIMBLE
STEPHENVILLE (December 8, 2016) – The city of Stephenville’s landfill provides an example of how a government can successfully operate a business. And, after receiving the support of all but two city council members on Tuesday, Nick Williams, director of public works, plans to make an $800,000 investment pays off.
The council approved the financing of shredder and trammel for use at the landfill. Council member Jerry Warren opposed the issue, due to the cost of the equipment, and Rhett Harrison said he didn’t believe the expense is a current priority.
But, council member Alan Nix reminded the council that the landfill’s enterprise fund, which will pay off the debt, can only be expended on the facility. Finance Director Walter Wood said the landfill fund has sufficient funds to purchase the equipment outright, but he recommended a loan from Texas Bank in Stephenville, saying the current council has expressed a preference for payments.
Williams said the biggest savings will come from the space saved by shredding materials and mining metals that are taken to the landfill for disposal.
“That will allow us to maximize space and extend the life of the landfill,” Williams said, adding the life which could increase from 20 to 40 years is dependent on number of factors.
Williams told the council that establishing a permitting a new landfill will be costlier and time consuming that simply locating and purchasing land.
“It could take years, or even decades, to get state approval,” he said.
Council member Alan Nix echoed Williams’ concern that establishing a new landfill or expanding the existing one would be an even greater expense.
“The engineering and construction of the newest cells was very costly,” Nix said.
Williams told the council there has been a definite increase in construction materials and brush entering the landfill and attributed it to storm damage across the region, construction at Tarleton State University and residential and commercial development.
The increase in intake has also led to an increase in revenue.
Providing conservative projections, Williams said doing nothing with existing waste and only shredding incoming materials will save an estimated $125,000 in landfill space per year. But, he also said another $500,000 in space will be realized through the excavation of existing cells were that loosely filled brush and construction debris before the city purchased proper landfill equipment.
“When I got here 10 years ago, the landfill had all of the wrong equipment,” Williams said, there were no scales and space was being quickly depleted. “We now have the scales, compactors, haul truck and excavator, which allow the landfill to operate more efficiently. It has made a major difference.”
But, Williams told The Flash Wednesday that saving space is not the advantage of the shredding equipment.
He said the city spends $30,000 per year paying an outside service to shred brush into large-grade mulch to reduce the impact on the landfill.
“We aren’t grinding all of it, just what the budget allows,” Williams said. “We don’t want to put that in the cells. Brush takes up space.”
Williams said mining metals found in the roofing materials will also allow space savings and offer another money making opportunity. He provided the council with a conservative estimate, saying he believes the landfill could make about $20,000 per year by shredding and harvesting metals.
“That doubles when mining metals from the existing cells,” Williams later told The Flash. “That would cover the maintenance costs for the equipment.”
Meanwhile, Williams said city street and utility crews currently purchases road base to fill in cuts made for water and sewer repairs, but the new equipment will allow city crews to turn caliche-based material excavated during the construction of the landfill’s newest cells into useable product.
He also said the city will be able to shred old tires and turn them into to road base and surface materials to make repairs to roads at city facilities or fill and patch potholes in parking lots and along streets.
Council member Brady Pendleton said the expenses added up to a win-win for the city and its taxpayers due to the opportunity to save and make money. Pendleton also said money has to be spent before it can be made.