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Council votes to stay with SPSA

Published 10:52pm Thursday, May 2, 2013

City Council voted Wednesday to express its intent to continue cooperating with other regional localities for its solid waste disposal.

The city and seven other member localities participate in the Southeastern Public Service Authority, which operates a landfill in Suffolk and other facilities throughout the region. But the use and support agreements held by the eight localities end in January 2018, so the localities need to come to an agreement soon about the future of the cooperative arrangement.

The resolution is the city’s first official commitment to participating in SPSA past the current end date. All eight member localities — Suffolk, Franklin, Southampton County, Isle of Wight County, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach — are expected to pass similar resolutions, but only Suffolk and Virginia Beach have done so.

“The intent of this resolution, what we really need to do, is find out who’s in and who’s out,” Public Works Director Eric Nielsen said.

City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn said Wednesday it was important for Suffolk to be among the first to pass its resolution. The city currently gets free disposal in return for hosting the landfill, but the other localities pay fees that have in past years reached as high as $170 per ton. Many have looked at the arrangement as unfair.

“I don’t think other communities are going to start moving unless they know what Virginia Beach and the city of Suffolk will be doing,” Cuffee-Glenn said.

The approved, non-binding resolution states all cities would pay equal tipping fees, but that Suffolk would receive a host fee for the landfill.

“I don’t think there’s anybody who would support free tipping,” Nielsen said. “They think we should pay what everybody else is paying and then we would get, for lack of a better word, a rebate or a business expense for hosting the regional landfill.”

Nielsen said preliminary discussion has involved a $4 per ton host fee, with a minimum of $1 million to be paid annually.

Vice Mayor Charles Brown hoped the city would be able to rein in problems it has had with the landfill in the past.

“In previous years we had a lot of complications, so far as the cannot control the odor and what have you,” he said. “I think it’s very important that you look at what went wrong and how can you fix it such that those things will never occur again.”

The other member localities are expected to adopt resolutions about their intent before the end of June.

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