JB Green Team monitors 2014 spending

STEUBENVILLE – The JB Green Team board of trustees debated several revenue options Monday night as the solid waste authority for Jefferson and Belmont counties looks at a two-phase plan for cost reductions.

The board approved adding a designation fee to the new 15-year operating plan but delayed implementing the fee.

According to JB Green Team Executive Director Cliff Meyer, approximately 120 tons of solid waste material is generated annually in Jefferson and Belmont counties.

“The Apex Landfill gets about 60,000 tons of that waste and the rest is taken to landfills outside of the counties. We receive fees from Apex for every ton of solid waste taken to that landfill but nothing from these other landfills. Under my plan a letter will be sent to each landfill getting municipal waste explaining the designation fee system. The letter would tell those landfill operators they would have to pay a $2-per-ton designation fee to receive solid waste from Jefferson or Belmont counties,” explained Meyer.

Board member and Steubenville Mayor Domenick Mucci argued against the designation fee saying the fee would force Steubenville to transport its collected solid waste to the Apex landfill at a greater cost.

“You are looking at revenue funds from communities already struggling financially. I don’t have a problem, including the designation fee in our plan as long as it’s clear this will have to come back to the legislative body for final approval. We have shopped around and did the best deal for our citizens,” said Mucci.

“We put a lot of thought into our plan. We are doing the best for our city and the citizens. Our solid waste is going across the river to an Ohio County landfill,” said Martins Ferry Mayor Paul Riethmiller.

“It’s not right to reap the benefits and not pay the fees. The designation fee wouldn’t be necessary if the solid waste can’t be taken to a landfill outside of our counties. In order for us to survive we are going to need both counties paying into our system,” said board Chairman and Belmont County Commissioner Matt Coffland.

Meyer said the Apex landfill is still accepting solid waste material by rail car.

“Originally they told us that would stop on Jan. 1. Now they are saying a reduced amount of waste will continue to come in by rail until March,” noted Meyer.

Fiscal Officer Dave Hays told the board members the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency response to the preliminary budget, “said we need to demonstrate alternative resources in our new operating plan based on the projected loss of volume at the landfill.”

Meyer said the Phase 1 reductions include:

– Only one hazardous household material collection a year.

– Reducing the number of community collections to four events in each county.

– Charging $1 per tire during a tire collection.

– Eliminating the electronic collection.

– Cutting the donation to schools for recycling paper in half.

– Stop operating one of the recycling trucks.

“We also need to take a hard look at our revenue every quarter. If we continue with Phase 2 budget cuts they will be very deep. We are facing a huge unknown,” added Meyer.

The board agreed to allow Meyer to discuss future budget cuts and revenue options with the finance and planning committees that will report to the full board of trustees.

The trustees also discussed the need to announce all committee meetings.

Board member and Jefferson County Health Department Administrator Bruce Misselwitz reported the OEPA has loaned the health department a special meter to monitor the Apex landfill for hydrogen sulfide levels.

“If hydrogen sulfide levels are too high the landfill has 12 hours to place more soil over the leaking area,” cited Misselwitz.

Board member and Jefferson County Commissioner Tom Gentile questioned the OEPA’s commitment to stopping odors at the landfill.

“The OEPA has collected a lot of money over the years from that landfill and all they have done is talk about the odors. If it was really a priority it wouldn’t still be an issue today,” Gentile stated.

The board met in an eight-minute executive session to discuss the status of a lawsuit filed last year against the Apex landfill for late tipping fees.