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Tipping fee hike postponed

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Contract for bell tower renovation awarded

By John Barnhart

    Action on a proposal to raise the tipping fee at Bedford County’s landfill was postponed until the supervisors get more information on a class of industrial waste that an area waste hauler has begun bringing to the landfill. The proposal to raise the commercial tipping fee from $38 to $43 per ton is part of an effort to generate more money for landfill capital improvements. A large one, looming on the horizon, is the need to open a new landfill cell. According to Sheldon Cash, who heads the county’s solid waste department, the most recent study indicates the cell currently in use will last until 2019.
    According to Cash, accepting the new stream of industrial waste, at the current tipping fee, will generate $96,000 in four years. The proposed increase in the tipping fee will generate the same amount of revenue in five years. Cash said the new waste will not reduce the life of the cell because it is very dense and consists of dust, so it fills voids in the cell’s existing waste mass.
    The supervisors voted 5-2 to accept a proposal by District 3 Supervisor Steve Wilkerson and District 5 Supervisor Steve Arrington to delay action for eight weeks until Cash’s department has enough experience with this waste to provide solid numbers on it’s impact on his department and the landfill.
    According to Cash, it costs $3 million per year to operate the landfill. He said current revenue provides enough money for operating expenses but leaves little for capital improvements.
    District 7 Supervisor Tammy Parker, District 6 Supervisor Annie Pollard, and District 2 Supervisor Curry Martin joined Arrington and Wilkerson in voting for the proposal. District 1 Supervisor Bill Thomasson and Board Chairman John Sharp voted against it.
    The supervisors also voted unanimously to award a contract to Custom Structures to repair the county courthouse’s bell tower. According to Cash, who is also responsible for maintaining county buildings, Custom Structures submitted the lowest of two bids for the work. Their bid was for a total of $725,000.
    One concern about the bid was expressed by Gary Loomis, of Master Engineers and Designers, a consultant. Loomis has concerns about the mason who Custom Structures will use on the project. Loomis said his company asked subcontractors for the restoration to submit examples of three projects they had done over the past five years. He said the mason’s submissions were all small projects that involved new construction. All were on the ground. Loomis said the mason has not done any historic restoration work. As a result, Loomis said he is unable to say whether this mason is qualified for the work.
    After some discussion that noted that contractors will have to post a bond for the work, and which also noted that the other bid came in $125,000 higher, Martin made a motion to accept the bid. Martin’s motion passed unanimously.
    Late in the meeting, Wilkerson suggested helping the school board with the cost of running a sewer line to Moneta Elementary School.
    “We are going to pay for it now or they are going to ask us to pay for it later,” Arrington commented.
    The supervisors reached a consensus to follow Arrington’s suggestion to ask the school board to come to the supervisors and make a request before taking any action. Arrington said he wants the school board to tell the supervisors how much they want and what capital projects they won’t be able to do because of the money spent on the sewer line.
    “I don’t want to just pass it out,” Arrington said.
    During a work session that preceded their regular meetings, the supervisors heard a presentation from Amy Paul, of Management Partners, on a proposed regional library system. According to Paul, her company’s study indicates the supervisors will save $128,000 on personnel costs if they go in with Lynchburg and Campbell County on the regional system. There will also be savings in purchases as the regional system will be larger and be able to get better prices from vendors.
    Paul said all three localities will retain ownership of their buildings. She said Lynchburg and Campbell County have already agreed to join together in a regional library.
    According to County Attorney Carl Boggess, Bedford County’s library is already considered a regional system under state law. This is because the county system included the former city’s library and this regional status was grandfathered for 15 years after Bedford reverted to town status.