A letter from Central Kentucky Landfill to Georgetown city officials accuses Scott County officials of engaging in a “well-funded” campaign of “rumors and misinformation.”
The lengthy three-page letter is likely similar to those sent to elected officials in neighboring cities that are using the landfill to dispose of its solid waste, leading several of those communities to support the landfill in its efforts to expand. The Scott County Fiscal Court and Waste Services of the Bluegrass (WSB), owners of Central Kentucky Landfill, which is located in northern Scott County, are involved in multiple litigation and administrative disputes over the operation, expansion and future of the landfill.
Mayor Tom Prather said the city’s attorney advised him against getting involved in the dispute between the county and landfill, but he did not appreciate the tone or content of the letter.
“These types of scare tactics are not helpful,” Prather told the council regarding the letter’s contents. The mayor was also critical of the Lexington-Fayette Urban Council Government’s decision to support the landfill’s expansion and oppose the county.
“Of course, the Lexington-Fayette Urban Council can do whatever they please, but I think their actions are unacceptable,” Prather said. “At a time when we are trying to be cooperative with our neighbors, actions such as this are troubling and very disappointing.”
The letter dated July 7 and signed by Greg Elkins, chief operating officer for Central Kentucky Landfill, warned that should the landfill be closed the cost to city and county residents would be almost $1.4 million annually, but if the landfill remains open the city and county would benefit by as much $22 million.
“Like most of you, we watched as the bids for your waste disposal needs were read aloud at the bid opening on June 30,” states Elkins in the letter. “We saw the same thing unfold that has unfolded throughout Central Kentucky over this past year. A lone disposal company has made a bid as Central Kentucky Landfill is forced to exit the marketplace.
“We watched as communities like the City of Versailles, Harrison County, Owen County, and now the City of Georgetown have suffered skyrocketing waste management costs due to the inability of central Kentucky Landfill to provide disposal services as a result of the Scott County Fiscal Court’s actions to revise its Solid Waste Management Plan to eliminate all future capacity at the landfill, despite Scott County’s participation and support of the long-planned expansion of the landfill for many years.”
Competition provided by Central Kentucky Landfill has kept prices in check, but now prices are rising, Elkins wrote.
“The first to experience the pain of only one bidder was the City of Versailles where the city experienced a 28 percent increase for their waste management needs,” Elkins wrote. “Second was Harrison County seeing a 38 percent increase, then came Owen County with another double-digit increase. Finally, we have now seen that under the only bid other than Central Kentucky landfill’s, the City of Georgetown will experience a massive 275 percent increase for waste disposal costs.”
Central Kentucky Landfill was purchased from Georgetown in 1999, and at the time signed a contract giving the city tipping fees of $15.90 per ton. That contract is set to end Dec. 31, 2021, but in the letter Elkins said the landfill would maintain that rate for the city if a new contract were signed. At Monday’s council meeting, city officials said they were investigating privatizing its garbage collection services, because otherwise the tipping fees would increase to $43.50 per ton with another vendor.
Because of the ongoing litigation, city officials said they are forced to seek new avenues for its waste disposal as the court has determined based upon the county’s Solid Waste Management Plan, the landfill will close Oct. 31, 2021 because it has reached capacity. Last week, an Energy and Environment administration judge ruled the county’s Solid Waste Management Plan should never have been approved by the state and has ordered the state cabinet to review the plan again. The county plans to appeal.
One of the county’s concerns against the landfill are odor complaints from nearby residents. In addition, county officials have said there have been dozens of violations levied by the state against the landfill, something Elkins disputes.
“In our line of business, we certainly understand that the word ‘landfill’ can generate negative connotations and others will call them ‘dumps, which sounds even worse,” Elkins wrote. “Needless to say, if a small group of vocal individuals can shut down Kentucky’s remaining landfills merely by insisting ’not i my backyard,’ a major waste management crisis looms large for Kentucky and its residents.
“There have been lots of rumors and misinformation spread about the landfill in Scott County. It is no secret that our landfill experienced odor issues immediately following our long-standing operational plan suffering sudden shift due to revocation of a zoning certification. There were odors that left the site while the landfill developed new plans and was forced to abruptly and unexpectedly change directions and fill sequencing. The odor levels were not satisfactory or acceptable during this time of this unexpected operational transition, but the men and women of central Kentucky Landfill worked tirelessly to bring the odors back under control — a process that was heavily monitored and regulated by the Kentucky Department of Waste Management.
“Now, after over one hundred (100) individual odor inspections by the Division of Air Quality in the past year, the Central Kentucky Landfill has received only one (1) notice of violation for odor during that period. This notice was written on a day in February when the flare skid froze during single digit temperatures. It is worth noting that this violation came after management at the landfill self-reported the flare issue to the Cabinet.”
Elkins invited city officials to tour the operations.
“We hope you recognize that the decisions being made right now by Scott County, the City of Georgetown and the Kentucky Division of Waste Management, will have a substantial and long-lasting impact on the residents and businesses of Georgetown, Scott County and Central Kentucky,” Elkins wrote. “We hope you will make your decisions based upon objective fact, rather than misinformation, rumors and well-organized and well-funded publicity campaigns.
“The significance of the decisions you are making right now cannot be overstated.”
The full letter can be found on page 6A.
Mike Scogin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.