County Moves Forward with Plans for Solid Waste Transfer Station (View Video Here)

August 26, 2014
Dwayne Page

Household garbage from DeKalb County will be hauled to the Smith County landfill for disposal after the solid waste transfer station is up and running.a

The county commission Monday night voted to enter into a five year contract with the neighboring county who will dispose of DeKalb County's solid waste at the rate of $29.00 a ton. "We have negotiated and gotten bids from two or three landfills for the disposal and transfer of the household garbage that would come to the transfer station, be loaded on a truck, and then hauled away," said County Mayor Mike Foster during Monday night's county commission meeting.

The commission also awarded a bid to Elk Mountain Construction of Cookeville to build the transfer station, which will be located in the Smithville Industrial Park on Highway 70 east behind Tenneco Automotive. Elk Mountain's base bid was $1,308,092 with a deductive alternate of $425,077 from the base bid for road work into the proposed facility.

Foster said the transfer station operation is expected to be less expensive than starting up and maintaining another new Class I landfill. "Right now we're taking about 14,000 tons of garbage a year into the landfill. While we're closing that (existing) landfill, we can create a class III/IV landfill to take in construction material, household furniture, and other non-household garbage and cut that (intake into the landfill) at least by 30% or maybe down to 10,000 tons a year," he said.

"The good part about this agreement with Smith County is that it's for five years and they will take our garbage for $29.00 a ton. It currently costs us at least $35.00 a ton to dispose of it (household garbage) in our own facility (landfill). The landfill we're in now costs about $4,000,000 to build. It has lasted twelve years. Now we've got to do post-closure on it which means you have to encapsulate it in a 60 mil plastic membrane and then cover it with three or four feet of dirt. You're then talking about probably another million and a half dollars to close that (landfill). This way (transfer station) you don't have to haul leachate and you don't have to do post-closure on it and guarantee that post-closure by monitoring it for thirty years after closure. The environmental liability is extremely dangerous for the county. That is the reason primarily that everybody thinks this (transfer station) is the thing to do," said Foster.

While the county obtained bids for the disposal of its solid waste, Foster said it was not required to do so. "The low bidder on our negotiation was Smith County, which is good because it's one of the closer ones to us. County Attorney Hilton (Conger) has looked over this (contract) and we have a letter from him that basically says he has reviewed the contract between DeKalb and Smith County for disposal of non-hazardous waste. TCA 519 106 & 107 specifically authorizes these types of agreements between local governments. TCA 12-9-108 also provides for inter-local agreements between municipalities. Based on these statutes as well as a 1979 private act creating a purchasing law for DeKalb County, it's his (Conger's) opinion that the county is not required to advertise for competitive bids for these types of services. I (Conger) have consulted with CTAS (County Technical Advisory Service) and their attorney concurs with this opinion," he said.

The county still has to find some way it getting the garbage to Smith County. "We still have to contract with somebody which will have to be bid to haul that garbage to them (Smith County) or haul it ourselves. I don't think we want to get too much into that. Some of the garbage like the 40 yard compaction units maybe at Alexandria and some of those, where you could transport maybe fifteen tons at a time or twenty tons, we could probably load on our truck and haul to Smith County quicker than we could actually haul it here (to Smithville). We would actually save money doing that." said Foster.

The Smithville Industrial Board recently deeded the land for the solid waste transfer station to the City of Smithville, who in turn, deeded it to the county. The work under the contract will include the construction of a 5,400 square foot pre-engineered metal building as a solid waste transfer station including a scale house building and office building; construction of an access road with erosion control measures; stripping of 8,900 cubic yard top soil; 7,500 cubic yard site excavation; 6,000 cubic yard borrow material; 6,500 tons of mineral aggregate base stone; and 3,175 tons of hot mix.

With the help of Road Supervisor Kenny Edge and his department, the county has done much of its own work building an access road extending from the Industrial Park past Tenneco Automotive into the transfer station, a move which is expected to save the county money.

As WJLE reported earlier this month, the county received three bids from companies interested in building the transfer station.

County Mayor Foster and members of the purchasing committee met Tuesday morning, August 5 for a bid opening with Ronnie Reece of Professional Engineering Services from Sparta, who has been consulting local officials on the project.

The purchasing committee voted to award the contract to the company determined to have the best bid after the three proposals were given a more in depth review to make sure they met all the bid specifications as advertised.

At the time it appeared that Johnson Builders of Doyle had the lowest bid. But Foster said Monday night during the county commission meeting that it turns out Elk Mountain's bid was better. "The group that we thought actually had the low bid, when the engineer went back and re-did their math, the second group (Elk Mountain) was actually lower than the one we thought was. The (Elk Mountain) contract was actually about $860,000 (after deducts) for the transfer station, cutting the road into (the facility), and getting part of the gravel on it. Road Supervisor Edge has helped do part of that so that will cut (costs) some more. We've hired a guy to help too trying to get ahead. The city and county are going to try and go together to get an industrial improvement grant to do the black topping, which if we can do that would save us about $280,000. We've already talked with TDOT and they have said that because we are already at this point and that it serves the city industrial development board's land, they feel there is a good chance we might be about to do this (get the grant)," said Foster.

Now that the bid has been awarded, the contractor has 150 days to complete the project. Foster said he is hopeful that the transfer station is operational by December.

Meanwhile, the existing Class I landfill, located off Billings Road in the eastern portion of the county, will soon be full. "According to the engineering estimates, we probably have nine months left on it (existing landfill). But we'll still put some stuff in there (existing landfill) until we fill it. Then we'll do a Class III/IV cell for construction material," Foster said.

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