City ‘reluctantly’ backs landfill fees

Published 10:52 pm Monday, January 26, 2009

After a closed meeting that lasted more than an hour, Suffolk City Council announced its representatives would “reluctantly approve” a tipping fee increase at tomorrow’s meeting of the Southeastern Public Service Authority – but only with conditions.

David Rose, a representative of Davenport & Company, the city’s financial advisors, recommended five conditions that would go along with Suffolk’s yes vote. Council voted 8-0 to approve a resolution containing a list of the conditions.

The conditions are:


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That the increased fee be reviewed each month;

4That the city’s finance directors meet each month to review SPSA’s financial condition;

That SPSA engage an independent, outside firm capable of providing a fair valuation of SPSA’s assets, so that Suffolk will know the level of contribution it is providing by hosting the landfill;

That the Virginia Resource Authority provide an independent review of SPSA’s assets, with full cooperation of SPSA staff and access to its records;

And that the Virginia Resource Authority is encouraged to hold a summit, with stakeholders and member communities, to explore ways to craft a resolution of SPSA, with full vetting of all options.

Councilman Jeffrey Gardy said the valuation of assets is important because, Suffolk needs to know what level of contribution it is making by hosting the landfill. Other member communities in SPSA, and SPSA leaders themselves, have taken Suffolk to task for not paying tipping fees, saying the deal is contributing to SPSA’s ever-mounting debt.

“I think we definitely, probably got the biggest dog in the fight,” he said, referencing the problems of traffic, odor, birds, trash on the highways and future closure that other communities do not have to contend with.

Vice Mayor Curtis Milteer said he believes the summit will be important to keep the organization intact.

“This is not an easy thing to do,” said Mayor Linda T. Johnson. She said the most important steps toward resolving the issue will be to get everyone at the table and determining what the problems are.

“We don’t know enough to know what they are,” she said.

Former mayor Andy Damiani, who is currently on the SPSA business advisory board and who served as the city’s chief governmental officer at the time of the organization’s founding, said the resolution does not address the real problem.

“There’s nothing new here today,” he said. “They’re hiring more lawyers to get the same results.”