Glenwood Springs to take over South Canyon Landfill operations
Glenwood Springs City Council, at its Thursday meeting, voted in favor of bringing the South Canyon Landfill operation back under the control of the city, directly, once the current management contract expires this spring.
Heartland Environmental Services now runs the city-owned South Canyon facility. However, following Thursday’s 5-1 council decision, city staff will take over beginning April 1, 2019.
The move is part of an effort to rein in costs and improve efficiency at the landfill, which has operated in the red in recent years.
The motion by City Councilor Jonathan Godes and seconded by Councilor Jim Ingraham proposed to bring landfill operations in house at the conclusion of the current contract, and not to take it out to a competitive bid process.
“Also, I would like to give staff the discretion to contract with consultants such as Blue Ridge … for the transition period, as needed,” Godes said in his motion, referring to another contractor, Blue Ridge Services, Inc., that the city used to prepare a recent cost comparison analysis and options for the landfill’s operation. The city may continue to use the firm to continue consulting with the city on landfill operations.
Godes, Ingraham and Councilors Shelley Kaup and Steve Davis supported the motion. City Councilor Todd Leahy recused himself from the discussion, leaving Mayor Michael Gamba as the lone “no” vote.
Some members of the public expressed concerns about potential negative ramifications to valley businesses such as car washes, restaurants and hotels as the South Canyon Landfill provides composting.
“You are the only facility between Denver and Delta that takes grease and car wash at this time,” one citizen said before councilors. “Obviously my concern is, number one, our ability to offer services to our customers, but, number two, what are you going to do for the businesses — the car washes all over the valleys and the grease traps — if you are no longer going to offer that service to them?”
“I do not believe we are planning on curtailing that service,” City Manager Debra Figueroa answered. “I do not think we are saying we are just going to walk away from [composting].”
Still, the landfill operation has been operating at a deficit, partly due to a large gap between costs and revenue for the compost operation. An Oct. 22 report from Blue Ridge Services indicated that gap grew to a $329,308 deficit in 2017.
Gamba, who opposed turning the South Canyon Landfill back over to the city, cited how a key staff member’s upcoming retirement coupled with the city’s previous track record of overseeing it directly concerned him.
“I will just remind you, the last time we did run it we were not in compliance with state health department regulations,” Gamba said.
That was a sentiment echoed by Heartland Environmental Services Owner Larry Giroux.
“Let me put it to you this way: I have run landfills for 30 some years. I have done projects in Hong Kong and South America and all over the United States,” Giroux told the Post Independent Friday.
“[The South Canyon Landfill] was one of the worst landfills in North America that I had seen for compliance and aesthetics. It was awful,” Giroux said of when he first took it over.
However, Councilor Kaup stated at the Thursday meeting, “In my mind, though, we might have more flexibility if we bring it in house to work on new technologies or technological solutions so that we can address this issue up at South Canyon Landfill.”
Giroux said he believes a consultant’s evaluation of the facility was “very flawed.”
“He gave 100 points on different line items, for example he evaluated the experience of the current contractor, me, and the city staff, and he allowed 20 points for that group,” Giroux said.
“He gave me 20 points because I have 30 of years experience; I know what I am doing. He gave the city 17 and a half points, and like I said not one of their people have ever operated equipment,” Giroux added.
“By us being able to deal with all of the facets that might be involved with it, I think it would be easier if it was totally under our control,” the city’s landfill superintendent, King Lloyd, said in response to a question regarding the flexibility and feasibility of city staff taking on the entire project.
“It will be interesting,” Giroux said, adding, “there is a lot more to this story…”
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