Council, supervisors vote to approve SPSA agreement

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, March 30, 2016



At their respective meetings on Monday night, the Franklin City Council and Southampton County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the resolutions “to authorize execution of the agreement for the use and support of solid waste disposal system.”

With the approved resolutions, both localities would enter into a new agreement with Southeastern Public Service Authority once their current contract is up on January 24, 2018.

The resolutions that were approved highlighted the major aspects of the use and support agreement for post-2018, which are listed as follows:

• The new agreement will begin Jan. 25, 2018;

• Each locality will be in identical new agreements with the authority;

• SPSA Board of directors has issued a notice of intent to award a Water Waste Supply Agreement with RePower South which requires SPSA to deliver 350,000 tons of municipal solid waste to RePower’s facility which is to be constructed in the City of Chesapeake;

• A condition precedent of SPSA and RePower entering into such an agreement, RePower has requested the SPSA member localities execute their respective Use and Support Agreements in order to ensure a “critical mass” of municipal solid waste will be available to support the commitment of SPSA to deliver that amount of municipal solid waste is required in the Waste Supply Agreement; and

• SPSA has shown its ability to become financially sound by eliminating all of its outstanding debts by January 2018 and its commitment to reducing the overall tipping fee costs of the member localities by negotiating a favorable agreement with RePower South, along with continuing to negotiate in good faith the City of Suffolk on a Good Neighbor/Host Fee agreement.

The first time the City of Franklin saw the use and support agreement was in December. Since then, there have been presentations on the agreement presented to council and there are still a few unanswered questions, especially when it comes to the good neighbor agreement with Suffolk.

“The negotiating of the good neighbor host fee, will that come back to us once its fully negotiated,” Franklin City Mayor Raystine Johnson-Ashburn asked Franklin City Attorney Taylor Williams, who also serves on the SPSA Board.

Williams said it will come back to them for explanation, but that agreement will be between SPSA and Suffolk and it will not require an action by council.

Several of the council members said that they didn’t like the idea of entering into an agreement where they didn’t know all the facts, however, they knew that this is the best deal for the city.

Vice Mayor Barry Cheatham said other options had been looked into, but none of them offered the deal that SPSA did.

Councilman Benny Burgess echoed this and also added that although he doesn’t like entering into an agreement without knowing what the good neighbor agreement will be, he didn’t see any good alternative.

The Southampton County Board of Supervisors agreed at their meeting in saying that this was the best option, the tipping fee is good and this agreement has the locality’s best interest in mind.

“If it’s successful, it’s fantastic,” said Southampton County Vice Chairman Ronald West. “It gives Chesapeake new income and new jobs. It gives [Southampton County] a safe haven to burn trash and not just dump it in the ground … There ought to be a better way [than dumping trash in the ground]. We don’t lose in this situation. I’m on board … We’re guaranteeing the best for every citizen in this county.”

Southampton County Supervisor Barry Porter added, “I strongly feel that $56 is better than what my expectations were. I told [county administrator] Mike [Johnson] that we needed to get it under $60, so I was really happy that we could get it down to that. We’re going from one of the highest in the country to one of the lowest in the country.”

Supervisor Carl Faison said, “SPSA has been good at what they do, and that’s getting rid of our trash. The problem has been economic and financial problems they’ve experienced. With those ironed out, I think we’d be making a big mistake to not take advantage of this.”

When it came time to vote on the resolution, all the Southampton Supervisors were in agreement and voted to approve.

On the other hand, when it came time for the City of Franklin to vote, all voted to approve the resolution except for councilman Greg McLemore who exercised his right to say “nay.”

“I just want to go on record in saying that I don’t think we’ve exercised our full amount of time to deliberate on this before we enter into a 15-year contract on behalf of our citizens,” McLemore said.

Williams responded in saying that nothing significant had changed in the agreement since December when it was first given to Council, and councilwoman Mona Murphy added they she felt they had had plenty of time.

With these two localities approving the resolution and Isle of Wight County’s approval from their meeting last week, the entities who still have to vote on it are Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk and Virginia Beach.

Williams said from what he knew the other localities would be voting at their upcoming meetings, and it is SPSA’s hope that all the communities will pass the resolution by the end of April.