Tucker County Landfill Granted Fund Access

The Tucker County Landfill and Solid Waste Authority has been granted access to an escrow account of $2.2 million to construct a new cell.

By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate

            For the first time in several months, the Tucker County Solid Waste Authority came together in person for their monthly meeting.  Acting Chair Mark Holstine reported to the board that the Public Service Commission has granted access to the $2.2 million closure escrow account that can be used towards the construction of a new cell.  As part of the loan agreement, the loan must be repaid over the course of 15 years, during which time the Solid Waste Management Board must remain in a managerial position.

More good news followed with Holstine stating, “The general investigation is being closed by the Public Service Commission on the improper use of the previous construction and equipment escrow.”  He explained that the order does request certain tasks be done, such as but not limited to the filing of the tariffs, copies of the cash flow monthly for six months, and training for the SWA members on proper use of funds.

The new rates are also in effect with the price per ton set at $53.30, which is a $5.80 per ton increase.

The minutes from the June 23 meeting were approved with a motion by Board Member Chris Lowther with a second by Board Member Diane Hinkle.

Solid Waste Management Board Attorney Ray Keller offered the board reports, beginning, “For the month of June, we brought in 6,261 tons, giving us a grand total of 64,699 tons for the year.”  The landfill fell short by 2,300 tons for the budget goal.  “Compared to last year, we lost 10,333 tons,” he continued.  Approximately 8,000 can be contributed to not accepting the sludge from Moorefield, and the remaining 2,000 is spread across the haulers.  The budget for next year has been set at 64,500.

Keller moved to the leachate report announcing that 6,908,621 gallons were removed for fiscal year 2020. Which is nearly a four million gallon decrease from this time last year.  The lack of precipitation over the last three months is a contributing factor to this decrease.  In the month of June, a total of 74 loads of leachate were hauled out of the landfill.  “Pond number one we got four feet of free board and pond number two we have six feet of free board right now so we’re sitting pretty good,” Keller added.

Any account receivable currently over 60 days has been a primary focus of the board.  “For the month though we are due $297,760 and all of that should be in by the end of this month,” said Keller.  Compared to where this report was not long ago, he is satisfied with how far it has come.  Preston Sanitation still owes the landfill over $50,000 and are making payments on this amount.

Moving into accounts payable, Keller explained to the board several one time charges that appear on the statement.  “The biggest thing on there is our rental for equipment,” he continued in addition to costs for repairs needed for one of the compactors.  Charges pertaining to the equipment were paid for by the escrow account the PSC issued access to earlier this year, therefore the costs did not come out of the general fund.

For the month of June, the landfill brought in $297,863 with a net income of $115,000.  “But like I said,” continued Keller, “a lot of that money is coming out of that escrow money that we got so we actually probably made some money.”  The balance sheets provided the board with an overview of how much is in each account, including the escrow accounts. In addition, $241,000 is owed on a loan held by the Solid Waste Management Board along with over $2 million owed to Grant County Bank.  Keller also stated that adjustments need to be made to the balance sheet due to a discrepancy in funds allocated toward cells that do not exist.

Holstine elaborated on this line item of funds for the non-existent cell, stating, “That was one of the ways that was being used to cover the mis-expenditure of that money.”  Over $600,000 was allocated to this account and will be redistributed by an independent accountant.

The board was also provided a copy of the check register and credit card statements for their review.  There are two outstanding bills owed by the landfill, one to Radabaugh and another to Cleveland Brothers.  The goal is to pay each entity three to five thousand dollars per month which would potentially pay off Radabaugh this month which will further pay down Cleveland Brothers.

Rumors have been circulating that Kingwood is planning to cease business with the Tucker County Landfill, therefore Holstine called their office to inquire. The individual he spoke to had no knowledge of this plan on behalf of the city, though she had heard the rumor as well.  “That would be a huge issue if Kingwood did pull their waste from the landfill, they are currently almost 20% of our tonnage,” Holstine assured.  A financial loss of that magnitude could be detrimental to the future of the facility.  Board Member Diane Hinkle asked if it was believed to be due to the rate increase, which Holstine said was probable.  Board Member Dennis Filler asked if Kingwood were to pull, where would their trash be taken.  Keller stated it would go to Mountaineer Transfer Station in Morgantown, however they too just implemented a rate increase.

Jim Alford, board member, handed Holstine a letter that he received in the mail on behalf of the SWA that announced an award of a $10,000 grant by the state SWMB.  These funds are going to be allocated towards leachate treatment at the landfill.

A preconstruction meeting with the contractor is scheduled for the beginning stages of cell 7B, along with the contractor who is installing the liner.  The meeting has been on hold due to the unknown of the rate case, which could not proceed until granted access to the escrow account.  It is anticipated to begin construction as soon as possible with a projected end date at the end of October.  “We’ve got to get it done this construction season or we’re going to run out of air space again,” added Holstine.

New businesses consisted of a request for the board members to review the bylaws in order to discuss at the August meeting.  Keller suggested allocating a $250 boot allowance to qualified, full time employees of the landfill.  It was discussed to allow the employees to purchase their boots and bring in the receipt for a refund up to that amount.  Alford made the motion to approve the allowance for steel toe boots with Board Member Chris Lowther making a second.  All members were in agreement and with the understanding it will be included in the employee handbook.  This will be reviewed annually by the board as well.  Filler made a motion to approve the handbook that members have been revising with a second made by Hinkle.

Holstine instructed the need to nominate a Vice Chairman of the board while he will remain as the acting chair, though the timeframe is unknown.  Filler and Hinkle were both nominated to fill this role with Filler being elected by show of hands.  A Secretary/Treasurer election also needed to take place, who does not have to be a member of the SWA.  This position has been filled by Carol Helmick and per nomination by Hinkle, will remain in this role.

Public comment consisted of Parsons City Administrator Jason Myers inquiring about the rate increase, stating that, “We’re (the City of Parsons) going to have to do an emergency rate increase.”  The minimum rate charged at the gate has also been increased from $11.25 to $12.65. Free days with the exception of tires will continue as mandated by state law.   Holstine explained the new rate and the lack of a construction debris rate with Myers stating the SWA has done a good job getting the landfill back on track.

The next meeting of the Tucker County SWA will be held Tuesday, August 18 at 3 p.m. at the Tucker County Courthouse.