Archive for Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fuel costs spur surcharge for hauling county’s waste

October 24, 2007

Due to high fuel costs, the amount Leavenworth County pays to have its waste transported to a landfill in Perry is set to increase next year.

Charles Sedlock, division manager at Hamm Sanitary Landfill, presented county commissioners with a five-year renewal contract Thursday, Oct. 18. The contract will add a fuel surcharge to the base price charged each month for waste removal from the county transfer station.

Sedlock said the cost of diesel fuel, which on Thursday was $3.02 per gallon, has created an "untenable situation" for Hamm, which transports and disposes of Leavenworth County solid waste.

"For us to stay in the industry and provide a good service ... we, like other folks in fuel-intensive services are moving toward a fuel surcharge," Sedlock said.

The floating charge will change every month based on the price of fuel, with a $2 minimum price floor.

At the current fuel rate, a monthly surcharge would add approximately $535 to the county's bill.

Also included in the contract is a 3 percent inflationary charge as in years past. That charge, Sedlock said, will be waived in 2008, however.

Commissioners weighed several options, including adjusting the base price for removal, which is over $20 per ton, but they ultimately voted, 3-0, to accept the proposal as presented.

The contract extends the county's relationship with Hamm, following a 10-year contract signed in 1997.

Commission Chairman J.C. Tellefson said the county would most likely cover the solid waste department's expenses by raising tipping fees charged to customers at the transfer station.

Solid Waste director Debbie McRill said the current tipping fee is $27.50 per ton, with 38,000 tons of waste coming in and out of the station each year.

McRill assured Tellefson that low load users would still be charged a $5 flat fee for services and would not be subject to the new surcharge.

Commissioners also discussed how to replace McRill, whose was to vacate her post this week after her recent resignation.

A draft job description was presented, but Tellefson said he wanted to hold off on advertising for the position until the specific requirements for the job were researched.

"There are some extra things here beyond what the state requires," Tellefson said of the job description. He even raised the possibility of using a consultant to fill the director's position.

Although they also voted to further research the minimum requirements for the job, Commissioners Clyde Graeber and Dean Oroke said they supported the current description.

"With the amount of fines we've had there in the past, I think you'd find an extra $10,000 in salary would be well worth it," Oroke said.

"With Debbie (McRill) leaving, we need to get this moving as quickly as possible," Graeber added.

In other business Thursday, the board:

  • Conducted a department head meeting, which included a discussion on how to handle trick-or-treaters during the county's Halloween celebration Oct. 30 and 31 at the County Courthouse.

The question was raised: Who should pay for candy that different departments hand out?

Oroke said the issue was not just Halloween candy. It's also Gatorade, coffee and bottled water for road crews and refreshments for other departments.

Special Buildings Director Tim Goetz said he and other department heads have had to pay out-of-pocket for coffee at meetings in the courthouse's conference room.

Ultimately, Oroke said, "those decisions should be left up to the department head."

As for the Halloween candy, Tellefson said employees should contribute on a volunteer basis if they so choose.

  • Heard a quarterly report from Information Systems director Larry Malbrough, who recommended adding to a county Web filtering policy. The Information Systems department currently blocks -- among other things -- adult/sexually explicit material, gambling or hate sites and spyware. After a 3-0 vote by commissioners Thursday, the department will begin restricting personal e-mail and downloads.

"This (policy) is allowing employees only enough access to do their jobs," Malbrough said. "It's intended so that they at least notify IS and let us know what they're trying to do."

In business Monday, the board:

  • Heard a quarterly report from County Counselor-at-Large Keyta Kelly. Kelly noted six bankruptcy, 22 small claims and six board of tax appeals cases in the third quarter.

She said a meeting with the Leavenworth City Council Oct. 9 to request using Ray Miller Park as the potential site for the 2010 and 2011 Kansas Sampler Festival was successful. Kelly will meet with the Kansas Sampler Foundation host selection committee in January to pitch the idea of bringing the festival to Leavenworth.

As part of the Christmas Open House Committee, Kelly also reported that this year's festivities will include historical performances by more than 15 residents. The performances will depict local historic figures such as Tilly Abeles, Harriet Cushing, Ruben Basehor and others.

  • Heard a quarterly report from Geographical Information Systems director Jeff Culbertson, who told the board that Wayne Doty was hired as a GIS technician to fill a recent vacancy in the department.

Culbertson noted several ongoing projects, including a cemetery inventory. Along with other volunteers, Culbertson has been conducting weekend field checks in an attempt to compile a countywide database of everyone who has been buried in Leavenworth County. The department has 36,000 records thus far. The next cemetery to document is at the northeast corner of New Lawrence Road and County Road 5; however, several dead trees must be downed before work there begins, Culbertson said.

  • Heard a quarterly report from Bob Weber with the County Appraiser's Office. According to his report, the department processed 186 personal property renditions, completed 457 building permits and held 10 small claim hearings in the third quarter.
  • Heard a quarterly report from representatives with the county Health Department. The department's new director Donna Martin informed commissioners about various meetings and exercises her employees have attended and noted several current projects, including a public flu clinic to be held Saturday at Tonganoxie High School from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Martin also explained that the department was short on nurses and raised the possibility of hiring an additional staff person

  • Heard a quarterly report from Solid Waste director Debbie McRill before her final day Wednesday. McRill said the budget and average tonnage at the transfer station have stayed "pretty steady," and she added some suggestions for the future of the department.

Among those were creating a construction and demolition landfill in the county, a household hazardous waste disposal site and auxiliary transfer stations.

The board also voted against using Resun Corp. to build a deck, ramp and awning for an office trailer the company installed at the transfer station, instead of using county manpower to complete the project. McRill said she thought the features had been included in the original $26,150 proposal from Resun although no actual contract was signed.

  • Heard a quarterly report from Emergency Medical Services director Jamie Miller. Miller said 89 percent of the department's anticipated revenue for 2007 has been collected and 67 percent of the proposed budget has been expended, although worker's compensation will be weighted heavily in the fourth-quarter.

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