Some seek Suffolk tipping fees

Published 10:05 pm Thursday, January 26, 2012

For the third time in as many years, Suffolk’s neighbors to the east are making a public push to convince the city to begin contributing financially for its membership in the Southeastern Public Service Authority.

Chesapeake representative Marley A. Woodall Jr. made a motion at Wednesday’s board meeting to instruct SPSA’s executive director “to enter into meaningful discussions with the city of Suffolk for the purpose of establishing a parity surcharge based on tonnage.”

The motion failed on a 5-10 vote.

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“What he was saying is it’s not equitable the way it is,” said James C. Adams II, a Suffolk representative on the board. “If Chesapeake had the same situation, do you think they’d renegotiate? Suffolk’s not going to do it.”

The city pays no tipping fees to dispose of its municipal waste in exchange for hosting the regional landfill. The deal is spelled out in its contract.

It was far from the first time the other participants in the regional trash authority have tried to get Suffolk to pay for its trash. In 2010, Woodall made a similar motion, which died for lack of votes.

In August 2009, Portsmouth representative Timothy Oksman also presented a resolution to have tipping fees evaluated. That motion, too, failed to garner enough support.

Adams said he believes the current situation is not equitable but that the city is entitled to stand its ground because of its contract.

“I told him, ‘I agree with you,’” Adams said. “It’s not equitable. But none of y’all wanted the landfill, and Suffolk took it.”

Adams said he would not expect the City Council to agree to a renegotiation of the contract.

“It would be political death for one of our City Council to say we want to be more fair,” he said. “It’s not the way I do business in the private theater, but that’s the way it is in [public entities].”

Adams added that he believes Suffolk’s deal is part of the reason the authority was in financial trouble in recent years until it sold off parts of its operation.