Council hears trash proposal

The council and audience hear a proposal from Albers & Associates to privatize Moorcroft’s solid waste management services.
Grace Moore photo

Rhett Albers of Albers & Associates of South Dakota agreed to make a proposal for the private running of the Moorcroft landfill, including a pickup service, at the recent Crook County Solid Waste Joint Powers Board meeting. He was invited to bring a full proposal before the Moorcroft Town Council, reiterating much of what he had said as he again pitched his full service solid waste management company on Mayor Steve Sproul’s invitation at Monday night’s meeting.
Not every councilman, however, was convinced that such a proposal could be workable in Moorcroft.
“In the last five to six years now, we’ve gotten into portable shredding, grinding and processing. We travel around with our portable processing equipment and shred and grind and process the waste materials that we’ve segregated out,” Albers said.
“Some of those materials can be beneficially used on the site as part of the landfill operation…In recent years, we’re finding actual markets off site, in other locations. We’re offering these same kinds of services to areas like you.”
Discussing the feasibility of privatization, Albers admitted, “It’s all volume based on this regionalization…the more we have to work with, the more feasible it is. We need that volume.”
Councilman Owen Mathews asked Albers if he is proposing to permit a new area at the landfill to handle the increased volume of which he spoke, reminding Albers that at the current volume the town’s landfill only has a remaining two years and the existing pit is in closure.
Albers answered, “No, not at this point.” He suggested that one option would be to transfer garbage to another location after removing and stockpiling all recyclables. Mathews reminded him that the potential $90,000 a year tipping fee for hauling somewhere else is what the town is trying to avoid for as long as possible.
Albers assured the council that they would be able to maintain existing rates. “We’ve maintained our rates for over 20 years except for cost of living,change of landfill – two percent, three percent … We can’t do it unless we make money at it, it’s a business,” he said.
Councilman Paul Smoot voiced his unease, from his experience, with allowing just this type of enterprise.
“I have firsthand knowledge of [this]. Those shredders are very efficient until they break down,” he said.
He spoke of the landfill outside Cincinnati, OH with knowledge garnered as the representative of waste management for that city.
“It saved about 50–60 percent of what was going into the landfill, but it raised the average residential cost by about 30 percent after seven years,” he said.
The council, with the exception of the mayor, all voiced their concern over privatizing the landfill due to the potential cost, but expressed their willingness to consider the option if Albers would provide some form of plan.
“We have to know what we’re getting into,” Mathews spoke. “The question when you come back is: where is that permitted area going to be?”
With no actual numbers available, nor answers to the problem of enough volume to pay for privatization and where the garbage would go, Albers offered to bring a proposal at a later date for the governing body to examine, to which they agreed.