Return of ‘flow control’ may cut city’s garbage costs

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 17, 2007

FRANKLIN—Local landfill tipping fees could be cut in half if a plan under consideration is approved.

City Councilman Charles Wrenn, who also sits on the Southeastern Public Service Authority’s board of directors, updated fellow council members on the Authority’s status during Monday night’s meeting.

&uot;Back when SPSA formed, it operated as a monopoly, with all members of SPSA having control over trash flow to the SPSA landfill,&uot; Wrenn said.

&uot;That went pretty well until 1994. There was a case involving a private trash collector that went to the Supreme Court.&uot;

The Supreme Court ruled that flow control, the right of localities to control the disposal location of waste generated within their borders, was unconstitutional.

&uot;SPSA no longer had control over private haulers and had to compete in the commercial field, which led to a lot of financial problems,&uot; Wrenn said.

SPSA was created on the assumption that the Authority’s localities would have flow control and generate enough revenue to finance the system.

The ruling caused SPSA to lose revenue, since it was able to control only residential, not commercial waste. As a result, taxpayers saw increased fees.

The decision, however, was reversed this year in another Supreme Court ruling.

&uot;Now, we can get back in a mode of flow control,&uot; Wrenn said. &uot;Each municipality can mandate that (waste) goes to the SPSA landfill, even if hauled by a private collector, who would pay the tipping fee.

&uot;All municipalities have to agree to it. We’ll be asked eventually if we want to support it or not.

&uot;Although it would be beneficial to us, there are more complications surrounding it in places like Virginia Beach and Suffolk, where there is also more money on the table.

&uot;I recommend we sit tight to see where they go with it. If (other localities) vote it down, it would be a waste of time (to come to a decision now),&uot; he said.

&uot;I have reason to suspect that might happen. However, if it is passed, we could have a substantial reduction in tipping fees. It would come close to cutting it in half.&uot;