LAURINBURG — Trash collected in Laurinburg will continue to go to St. Pauls landfill, but city officials on Tuesday left the door open to the possibility of having Scotland County handle its trash in the future.
At an hour-long meeting of the Laurinburg City Council and the Scotland County Board of Commissioners, the two boards discussed their previous arrangement for garbage disposal and what led to the city’s decision to end the arrangement earlier this summer.
In July, the Laurinburg City Council approved a memorandum of understanding with Robeson County to take its municipal solid waste rather than being serviced by Scotland County’s transfer station.
The city was paying Scotland County $55.75 per ton to handle its municipal solid waste but negotiated with Robeson County a price of $36.50 per ton. To end its agreement with Robeson County, the city must provide a 60-day notice.
“Our intention here is to increase our understanding of solid waste, its disposal for both the city and the county — how we can work together to come to a solution that benefits the city, the county and the citizens,” said Carol McCall, commission chair.
“We’re happy to get down to talking about how these issues,”said council member Mary Jo Adams, adding her thanks to the prep work conducted by City Manager Charles Nichols and County Manager Kevin Patterson.
Patterson said he wanted bvoth boards to consider where the situation might be a year from now.
The county would like to keep the city’s business because the higher the volume of garbage, the lower the rate by landfill companies. The city’s garbage made up almost 60 percent of the municipal solid waste the county was taking to its transfer station, which was then shipped to a Uwharrie Environmental landfill.
The county’s contract with Uwharrie Environmental ends at the end of June 2017. Patterson told commissioners and council members that he wanted to be able to include the city in negotiations with Uwharrie and other providers who seek the county’s landfill business.
“We’re looking for an understanding that we will work together with the city when we go out for bids because if I say we’re working together and I say we’re bidding out 18,000 pounds of MSW rather than 8,000 pounds of MSW, we can get a better rate,” Patterson said.
Also the county had been operating leaf and limb disposal for the city which is not something it continues to do in the absence of the MSW. Patterson said the county could handle that again as a part of the overall waste disposal, or if the city wishes to continue on its on leaf and limb disposal it could do so.
“The city residents are county residents, and frankly, the city of Laurinburg is also a citizen of Scotland County just as all of their businesses are. So it’s a situation of where I’m trying encourage good management all the way round,” Patterson said. “Charles and I have been trying to work together on this and basically, we expect to continue to work together.”
Officials on both sides agreed to cooperate in order to get a better deal with a waste company.
Another component to the issue is the matter of the county’s construction and demolition waste landfill, which is different from a landfill that takes municipal solid waste. MSW cannot be placed in a C&D landfill, Patterson said.
“The state’s telling us it’s going to cost us $3 million to close and monitor our C&D landfill and we have to accumulate that amount,” Patterson said. “Right now we have 30 years of life left but we’ve already accrued $1 million of that which means we have negative assets in that.”
State officials have told the county it must increase revenue so it’s worth something, Patterson said.
“Over the last 10 years we’ve had to increase all of our fees for solid waste in an attempt to keep up with the costs,” Patterson said.
At the same time the cost to the county was growing, it was limited in the amount it could increase its fees, he said, which led to implementing an availability fee.
“That’s the amount of money we charge — the tax we charge per household or business to cover the cost of the infrastructure of our solid waste program,”Patterson said.
Patterson said he was glad to be given the go-ahead on rate negotiations that include the city.
Reach Terri Ferguson Smith at 910-506-3169.