SPSA timeline set

Published 11:18 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Future of agency hinges on cities’ decisions

The leaders of the regional trash authority on Wednesday adopted a timeline to make a decision whether to continue the agency past 2018.

A final decision is not likely for another year or two, but a number of steps are planned to move toward that goal.

“I think we’re being prudent and responsible in what we’re doing,” said Joseph Leafe, chairman of the board of directors of the Southeastern Public Service Authority. He represents Norfolk on the board.

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According to the timeline, each of the communities should make a decision on whether it wants a SPSA-type organization to handle its trash after 2018 by September 2012. The year 2018 is the ending date of SPSA set forth in the contracts signed with each of the localities.

A study commissioned by the board and completed by SCS Engineers this year found that most of the localities would benefit financially from cooperating with the other areas for their waste disposal. But at least one board member questioned the results of the study, especially a suggestion that the tipping fee — what cities pay to dump their trash at the regional landfill — could be as low as $66 a ton.

“There ain’t too many people sitting around this table who believe that,” said Everett Williams Jr., who represents Franklin. “I don’t.”

Tipping fees are currently $145 a ton. Suffolk pays no tipping fee in exchange for hosting the landfill.

Williams wanted to direct SPSA staff to come up with a variety of scenarios the communities can use to guide their decision-making. That way, “at least we’re comparing apples to apples,” he said. “Otherwise, we could have a hodgepodge of what SPSA is like.”

June Fleming, Franklin city manager, agreed.

“I think we need to hear from staff, maybe at the January meeting, which would be the better way to go,” she said, acknowledging that she won’t be at that meeting because she is retiring. “I’m think I’m struggling with how SPSA staff can meet needs if they don’t know what (the needs) are.”

But others countered that the SCS Engineers study already had compiled and examined a variety of scenarios.

“The SCS study has the answer, but it’s buried in there somewhere,” said John Barnes, who represents Virginia Beach. “It’s a complicated issue. There’s a lot of moving parts.”

“That was part of what’s in the report,” Suffolk City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn concurred. “That was the intent.”