STEUBENVILLE - The JB Green Team board of trustees approved a $12.54 annual tax assessment on properties in Jefferson and Belmont counties in order to establish a funding base for the solid waste management plan.
The board took the action Monday night during the monthly meeting.
The assessment tax will be reviewed at a series of public hearings in both counties and will be presented to the two county auditors.
During the meeting, Jefferson County Commissioner Tom Gentile said he would like to revisit the designation fee issue that was vetoed by the Steubenville Council at its May 6 meeting. The designation fee would mean communities taking municipal solid waste to landfills outside of Jefferson and Belmont counties would pay an extra fee.
The tax assessment is expected to raise more than $650,000 for the financially strapped solid waste authority that saw its revenue drop after the Apex Sanitary Landfill sold its railroad assets and stopped accepting out of state solid waste.
The JB Green Team is expected to ratify the 15-year solid waste management plan at its next board meeting on Sept. 8 at the Bellaire Public Library.
The plan then will need to be ratified by 60 percent of the cities, villages and townships in both counties as well as Steubenville and Martins Ferry as the largest cities in each county and the Jefferson and Belmont county commissioners.
"The ratified plan must be submitted to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency by Jan. 31, 2015. That agency will then review the plan from January through April. It is in your best interests to have a ratified plan for the OEPA because you don't want them coming in to write your plan," explained Jim Skora of GT Consultants.
"One key deficiency the OEPA has already identified is your inability to demonstrate adequate financial reserves to cover planned expenses. There is inadequate funding due to the divestiture of the Apex rail assets and the reduction of the revenue stream from Apex," cited Skora.
"We believe there will be an increase in out-of-state solid waste within the next five to six years. Your agreement to raise charges to fund the solid waste services will generate at least $650,000 in annual revenue. That will address the key deficiency in your solid waste management plan," noted Skora.
Gentile said projections by JB Green Team Executive Director Cliff Myer regarding future oil and gas drilling in Belmont and Jefferson County "are pretty much on track."
"We are really going to see a lot of activities in both counties. I hope at some point we can revisit the designation fee issue that was vetoed by Steubenville," said Gentile.
"After the solid waste management plan is passed we really need to pass the designation fee," agreed Belmont County Commissioner Matt Coffland.
In other business, Gentile asked the board to consider taking over funding for the litter enforcement programs in both counties once the JB Green Team is on firm financial ground.
The board voted 9-1 to accept financial responsibility with Scott Fabian opposing the measure.
Jefferson County Health Department Administrator Bruce Misselwitz reported his department investigated two odor complaints at the Apex Landfill and found the facility was in compliance.
Misselwitz also reported the landfill is continuing to accept drilling waste.
(Gossett can be contacted at email@example.com.)