Yesterday’s Comissioners Court Meeting - Landfill Edition

Posted in Bad Government Republicans, Commissioners Court, Landfill, Williamson County at 9:53 am by wcnews

There are two media accounts of yesterday’s meeting regarding the issue of the new landfill contract. With the public finally able to air their grievances with about the contract to their elected representatives, the commissioners decided to punt the issue down the road a bit, Williamson County landfill vote put off until August 28.

After a roomful of people told Williamson County commissioners that they weren’t happy with a proposed contract with the county’s landfill operator, the commissioners decided to postpone a vote on the contract two weeks.

Commissioners Valerie Covey and Ron Morrison asked for the delay until Aug. 28, but neither would say whether the concerns brought up in court Tuesday prompted the move. The vote was originally set to be taken Aug. 14.

“I’m listening to all the input, and we’re trying to get the best contract for the taxpayers that we can,” Covey said.

Although a county attorney argued that there are only two options, that didn’t stand up to scrutiny.

Stephen Ackley of the county attorney’s office told the commissioners Tuesday that only two options existed: remain with the current contract that has no end date and allows the county little control over the landfill; or accept the new contract, which has at least 18 provisions that could lead to Waste Management defaulting on it.

Many of those who spoke Tuesday mentioned another option for commissioners to consider:

“Pull down the expansion permit, and Waste Management suddenly has an incentive to sit down with you,” Hutto resident Mahlon Arnett said.


“You folks act like you don’t call the shots, but you do,” Robin Schneider, head of Austin-based Texas Campaign for the Environment, told the commissioners Tuesday.

There is more that the county can do to negotiate a better deal, the citizens know it, and that’s what causing most, if no all, of the frustration with the court. There are many ways to make the other side bargain in a negotiation and the county’s inability to use any of those tactics is what makes people start wondering what’s going on. It also appears, because of his unwillingness to take his constituents seriously, that Judge Gattis has gotten his feelings hurt.

The group brought signs calling the landfill “Mount Gattis,” after County Judge Dan A. Gattis.

Gattis said he heard “no big flaws in the contract” Tuesday and that many of the issues are problems with the expansion permit.

He called some of the comments personal attacks.

“They’re not worrying about what’s good for Williamson County, and they’re trying to make it a personal vendetta,” Gattis said.

That goes both ways Judge. It is personal Judge when the county wants to increase the size of a dump near a citizens house and the county won’t listen to them. It’s also politics and you didn’t have to run for office.

The Hutto News also has a story on yesterday’s hearing, County hears concerns on new landfill contract“>County hears concerns on new landfill contract. Not much new in this article but there are a couple of good items from the meeting.

“Waste Management feels they have you over a barrel,” Carl Liddel of Jonah said. Liddel served as Pct. 1 county commissioner during the late 1970s and through the ‘80s, when the operation of the landfill was first contracted out to the company later absorbed by Waste Management.

“Either you are going to take the old contract or the new contract,” Liddel said during his comments against many amendments within the new landfill agreement.


“We seem to be put to this question of two choices: a horrible 2003 agreement or a bad new agreement,” said Hutto resident Jeff Maurice, landfill committee chairman for the Hutto Citizens Group, a grassroots organization fighting the landfill contract and proposed expansion. “Where is the option for the best agreement?”


The lack of an open, competitive bidding process is the most concerning issue, Pct. 4 Commissioner Ron Morrison said, but he said “it’s just not something we really can do right now.”

The county attorney’s office had previously stated that Waste Management could sue the county if the agreement was broken and put out to bid. The value of such a suit could be $200 to $400 million - the estimated revenue over the life of the landfill, Ackley said in a previous interview.

Morrison’s precinct includes the landfill, which is just north of Hutto, and although the other commissioners may look to him to take the lead on the decision, Morrison said the issue is countywide and possibly one of the most significant decisions facing the court.

“Any way we go, we’re going to have second thoughts on our choice,” he said.

Yes, Ron Morrison can talk, the silent one speaks!

The commissioners have extended the time before the final vote on this issue for two weeks. Why? Are they now saying they don’t have only two options? Are they actually going to go back to WMI and try and negotiate a better deal, a third option? Or are they just trying to buy a little more time in hopes that once the kids are back in school this whole thing will blow over? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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