Garfield County landfill operation under review |

Garfield County landfill operation under review

RIFLE — A new study of the West Garfield County Landfill near Rifle will help county officials determine if the facility is operating effectively as a self-sustaining enterprise fund, or whether the county commissioners might want to consider privatizing the facility.

“I view this as a master plan to help us see where we can expect to be in five, 10 or 20 years,” Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said during a recent discussion of the proposed “Strategic Solid Waste Management Plan.”

Among the questions Jankovsky said he hopes to have answered by the study:

“How do we look compared to other landfills in the area, and are we competitive? … And, is it truly an enterprise fund that can pay its own way, or should it be privately run?” he said.

The county is working with landfill consultants to develop a business plan for the $1.25 million-per-year operation during the coming year. The landfill operates as a separate enterprise fund under the county government, meaning it’s intended to be self-sustaining through user fee revenues, without relying on tax dollars.

The purpose of the study is to identify current sources and quantities of waste that comes to the landfill, and the various market players, including haulers, other landfills and transfer stations in the region, according to the proposal presented to county commissioners on May 13 by Betsy Suerth, the county’s facilities manager who oversees the landfill.

“This plan will provide the data and options necessary for the Board of County Commissioners to make informed decisions for the growth and financial sustainability of the [landfill],” the proposal reads.

The study will also explore potential new “non-hazardous” waste streams that could be accepted, as well as other potential services that could be added as a way to increase revenues.

“When you become a supplier of goods, it really becomes an enterprise fund in that sense,” Commission Chairman John Martin said.

Soliciting and accepting new types of waste could also reduce the life expectancy of the landfill, he acknowledged.

Commissioner Mike Samson said the study should also take a look at landfill operations in neighboring counties “to see how they’re doing it.”

“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel here,” Samson said.

A work session with the consultants who will be developing the landfill business plan will be scheduled sometime in July, followed by a full presentation of the findings this fall.

“It is expected that, with this information, the BOCC will be able to make informed decisions that will guide the future of the landfill,” Suerth indicated in a memo to the commissioners.

“The final [management plan] will identify potential development and operational efficiencies to strengthen and improve current operations [and] maximize the financial sustainability of the enterprise,” she said.

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