SPSA approves host agreement

Published 9:39 pm Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The regional trash authority on Wednesday unanimously approved a landfill host agreement that provides protections and compensation for Suffolk regarding the regional landfill.

“I’m very grateful to the board,” City Manager Patrick Roberts said after the meeting.

The agreement provides $4 to the city for every ton of municipal waste that is delivered to the landfill. The fee would be paid quarterly and adjust annually beginning in 2019 based on changes in the Consumer Price Index, between 1 and 3 percent.

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The city currently receives free disposal in exchange for hosting the landfill, but other member communities of the Southeastern Public Service Authority have made it clear they will not accept such a deal moving forward. The authority’s use and support agreements expire in January 2018, and the member communities have been working toward determining what “SPSA 2.0” will look like.

There will be no minimum or maximum on how much the city can receive in host fees.

In addition, the city will have access for inspection purposes and have first right of refusal if the landfill were to be for sale.

The authority will provide litter control and complaint resolution, maintain insurance and apply for a conditional use permit for an additional cell, as well as a rezoning to heavy manufacturing.

Amendments to the agreement must be approved by City Council and three-quarters of the authority’s board of directors.

The venue for any litigation arising from the agreement will be Chesapeake if Suffolk initiates it, and Suffolk if the authority — which is based in Chesapeake — initiates it.

The agreement will expire at the end of 2017 if the city has not approved the rezoning.

The agreement expires 20 years following the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality certifying the termination of post-closure care, a process that typically takes up to 30 years following the closure.

“I know everybody had to work together to get this done,” said Chairman Marley A. Woodall Jr., who represents Chesapeake. “It’s a big mountain to climb.”

The authority also considered four amendments to the draft use and support agreement, which has been under consideration by area localities for months.

Some localities objected to amending the agreement.

“It was our understanding the document was final,” said Portsmouth Deputy City Attorney Cheran Cordell, who voted against all of the amendments that came for a vote.

“The question is, is this going to come back up with a different locality with their own set of amendments,” said Dave Arnold, an attorney who represents Suffolk on the board. “I don’t think it is prudent to do this in piecemeal fashion.”

City Manager Patrick Roberts said, “This agreement has taken on somewhat of a Christmas tree, and only certain of us are allowed to hang ornaments on it.”

One of the proposed amendments, for example, was requested by Chesapeake and would prevent the authority from using a landfill located in the Northwest River Watershed, which covers much of Chesapeake as well as parts of Virginia Beach and Camden and Currituck counties in North Carolina. Another would prevent the authority from accepting out-of-area waste.

One proposed by Roberts would amend the initial term so that it ends on the last day of SPSA’s agreement with a third party serving as its primary waste-disposal vendor or June 30, 2027, whichever is later. The renewal terms would be reduced from 15 years to 10 years.

“It’s almost a doomsday provision,” Roberts said, noting that some localities might want to get out if, for some reason, the authority no longer has a third-party waste disposal agreement and is relying on the landfill. June 30, 2027, is the approximate date the landfill’s current cell will reach capacity if the landfill is the only source of disposal for the region’s trash.

Those three amendments passed. A fourth did not come to a vote, for lack of a second.

In other business at the meeting, the board approved the $46.3 million budget for the coming fiscal year.