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The Rutherford County Solid Waste Advisory/Steering Council (SWAC) voted Tuesday night (Feb. 27) that a solid waste authority be formed by the local governments in Rutherford County to determine the best way to handle solid waste in the future. It was made clear that recycling will be part of any discussion going forward.
The SWAC is a group of 14 citizens and elected officials from within the County asked to review the solid waste situation and make recommendations to the governments of Rutherford County.
A solid waste authority would include representatives of the County, Murfreesboro and any of the other cities in the county that agree to participate, including Smyrna, La Vergne and Eagleville.
“By forming an authority, we will have the best opportunity to reduce waste and improve recycling,” said Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland. “With the current system approaching capacity, this authority will give us a sound way to manage solid waste for years to come.”
Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess said, “All of our cities will be able to participate, and that would give us the greatest economic advantages. County residents expect us to make smart decisions with their tax dollars, and this approach gives us the best chance to do that.”
The authority would be established based on requirements outlined in the Tennessee Solid Waste Authority Act of 1991. Such an authority would determine how waste and recycling would be managed in the communities that are members.
“We need to have an authority so we can see what we are considering. If we are going to move ahead on how we handle solid waste, we need people who are responsible for it,” said Lynnisse Roehrich-Patrick, SWAC member and former Executive Director of the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations.
She then moved to form a solid waste authority and take the first step of developing a memo of understanding among all the entities that want to participate. Her motion was seconded and passed unanimously.
According to Consultant Harvey Gershman, with Gershman, Brickner & Bratton (GBB), a solid waste authority would enjoy certain financial advantages, including economies of scale and negotiated pricing. It also would relieve elected officials from the burden of making unpopular solid waste decisions. An authority would have independent revenue (fees for services), debt and expenses. Initial funding would come from its initial governmental participants.
The committee also voted to seek permission for Republic Services to conduct site investigations to determine the feasibility of consolidating the County Landfill with the nearby Middle Point Landfill (owned by Republic).
“Could a solid waste authority allow Republic to at least do the needed investigations to see if consolidating Middle Point and the County Landfill is feasible?” SWAC member Merry Hickerson, Rutherford County Highway Department Coordinator, asked. “More research doesn’t mean it’s a done deal.”
Gershman said the County Commission would have to make the decision to allow Republic to do the site investigations. Hickerson then moved that the County Commission be asked to allow Republic to proceed with the research, and the motion was seconded and passed by the SWAC members.
Several options for how to deal with solid waste were discussed, but no decisions were made. That will be left to the solid waste authority, once it is established. The options include: