They always say bad things come in threes. If the budget officer issue, and the WCRAS weren’t enough to swear off our current county government then hopefully this latest wrinkle in the landfill saga will do the trick. From today’s AAS, Williamson County’s landfill could start taking Killeen’s waste:
The amount of waste coming into Williamson County’s controversial landfill could increase dramatically under an proposed agreement between the City of Killeen and the landfill’s operator, Waste Management of Texas.
The Killeen City Council gave the go-ahead Tuesday for the city to negotiate a contract with Waste Management to send the roughly 100,000 tons of waste that Killeen produces each year to Williamson County’s landfill. Last year, the landfill took in 250,000 tons of waste from Williamson County, parts of Travis County and Salado, said Don Smith, Waste Management’s Central Texas general manager.
The proposed contract has drawn criticism from some residents near the landfill just north of Hutto, and has underscored what some county officials say is one of their major concerns: that the county has no control over how much waste goes into the landfill and where it comes from.
The proposed contract with Killeen also has expanded concerns that the site will become a regional landfill.
Take special notice in the above excerpt that Williamson County had absolutely no say in this trash from outside the county coming into the county. That’s what the Hutto Citizens Group (HCG) have been saying all along about who really controls our county landfill, the corporation Waste Management, Inc. (WMI).Â They’ve also been warning about the regionalization, (accepting trash from outside the county), of the landfill. The way Killeen went about securing this contract is certainly ironic:
Killeen’s waste is currently transported 62 miles to a landfill southeast of Austin that is operated by Allied Waste Services Inc. With that contract to expire in October, Killeen put its waste contract up for bid and city officials said Waste Management submitted the lowest bid. If a contract is signed, Killeen’s waste will have a shorter trip to the landfill, roughly 43 miles to the Williamson County site.
The lawsuit still pending regarding the current landfill contract, between the county andÂ WMI, is about whether it’s valid because it wasn’t put out for bid. See the irony? But what do our elected officials have to say about this?
“I’d ask (Waste Management) not to do it, but that’d be about as far as it would go because if I’m correct … they can do what they want to,” Williamson County Commissioner Ron Morrison said of the agreement.
That’s pathetic! As usual the Hutto Citizens Group is all over this. Here are a few excerpts from their statement [.pdf] on this latest development:
On Tuesday night, May 27, the City of Killeen’s council voted to proceed with negotiating a contract with Waste Management, Inc. (WMI) to deposit Killeen’s solid waste (100,000 tons per year) in the Williamson County landfill beginning in October of this year. Killeen began its discussion with WMI and other waste disposal companies several months ago. At the very least, WMI knew on May 8 (the date of the Hutto city council’s workshop with Gattis and Morrison) that it was actively pursuing the Killeen contract and that it was likely that the Killeen waste would be coming to the Wilco landfill.
However, at that May 8 meeting, with WMI’s Steve Jacobs sitting next to Gattis and passing him notes, Gattis responded to a question asking about importing solid waste from outside Williamson County, increasing the volume. â€œI don’t think WMI would do that to you, because they (WMI) would negotiate, even though it’s not required,â€ Gattis said. It is unclear whether Gattis knew (at that point) about the Killeen contract, but at the very least, in our opinion, Jacobs apparently knew the Killeen contract was in the works, and Jacobs did nothing to correct Gattis’ apparent misstatement and his misplaced trust in what WMI might do.
This information about Killeen makes it clear that what the HCG has been saying for some time now is indeed true. Our fears about how citizens’ interests are left unprotected have been validated. If the Killeen case is any example, our worst fears about regionalization, landfill height, no recycling, and the county’s failure to be in control have come home to roost. The most disappointing feature of this episode is that at the May 8 Hutto city council workshop, while WMI’s deal with Killeen was being finalized, no one from WMI corrected the information that Gattis was providing, and what could even be worse, we don’t know at this point how much the county knew about it on May 8. And if county officials didn’t know, why were they unaware? Is the county’s relationship with WMI such that this basic, important information wouldn’t be disclosed. Why is it left up to citizens to discover these things on our own, rather than having the county and the county’s contractor be upfront about what is going on?
The two remaining questions about the Killeen matter are these: What is Williamson County going to do about it? What is the City of Hutto going to do about it?
From Precinct 4 Commissioner Morrison’s comment above it appears the county fully intends to take this laying down. Hutto, we’ll just have to wait and see. As the HCG says their worst fears have been realized. Our county landfill being run by a corporation, and all the county government and citizens can do is ask them to play nice. That’s not likely to happen. Again, accountability comes in November.