Borough digging in to landfill job

Management switch complete; work on new cell progressing

Posted: Tuesday, February 01, 2005

On Jan. 1 of this year, the Kenai Peninsula Borough assumed operational control of the Central Peninsula Landfill, taking over from Waste Management Inc., a Houston firm that ran the landfill through its subsidiary Peninsula Sanitation.

The Houston company, which holds more than 1,600 waste-management contracts across the nation, has been reducing its participation in that industry, and late last year informed the borough it would not seek to renew its borough contract.

That prompted General Services Director Richard Campbell and Solid Waste Director Catherine Mayer to tell the assembly that doing the management in-house could result in significant savings over time.

"Cost savings may not always be immediately measurable," Campbell and Mayer said, "but savings are expected five, 10, 15 years in the future."

The assembly voted in December to take that route.

At a work session before the Jan. 18 meeting, Mayor Dale Bagley reported to the assembly on the progress of the shift from hired to in-house management, and followed that up with a written memo in the packet for Tuesday's assembly meeting.

Assembly action late last year established 11 borough jobs replacing former contract positions. Current borough employees took three of those jobs, while eight were hired from a pool of 500 applicants, Bagley said.

"All staff has prior landfill-solid waste experience with the exception of the mechanic," he said.

The transition from contract to borough operations has proceeded smoothly, the mayor told the assembly. Waste Management Inc. had mostly closed out its contract, he noted, but some work remained. Appropriate deductions would be made from the contractor's final payment, he said.

Meanwhile, final punch list items are all that remain to compete construction a new landfill cell, Bagley said. In 2002, borough voters approved issuing up to $12 million in bonds to build two new cells as needed. It is the first of these that now is close to completion.

However, the project still awaits a demonstration by the construction contractor that the 280,000-gallon leachate tank is leak-free. The borough will not accept the tank if a leak exists, Bagley said.

At the same time, landfill staff has been pumping substantial amounts of storm water from the new landfill cell liner and will assist with final construction tasks necessary before commencing landfill operations, Bagley said.

Equipment contracts totaling $1.32 million were awarded in December to Craig Taylor Equipment Co., Construction Machinery Industrial, LLC; NC Machinery; and Alaska Truck Center. Bagley noted that some equipment would not arrive until May, which he said had been a surprise because that differed from information provided by vendors during planning. However, temporary equipment leasing contracts were awarded to Fellman Machinery and Airport Equipment.

The borough has negotiated to purchase used tools and equipment and has borrowed other equipment from the Homer Landfill. An old water truck was acquired from Central Emergency Services. Assorted office equipment was acquired at no cost.

Bagley also noted ongoing work leading to closure of the old landfill next year. The exact timing of the closure will depend on when the new site is ready and when the current site reaches the desired capacity, he said.

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