This Week’s Landfill Wrap-Up

Posted in Bad Government Republicans, Had Enough Yet?, Landfill, Take Action, Williamson County at 3:26 pm by wcnews

The Hutto Citizens Group (HCG) has weighed in with their latest newsletter [.PDF], regarding not only Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting, but also the Hutto City Council Meeting that night. I appears that Judge Gattis has changed his tune a bit.

Following a suspense-filled meeting of commissioners court on Tuesday morning, in which commissioners decided to postpone any vote on the landfill contract until at least August 28, County Judge Dan Gattis told the Hutto City Council Tuesday night that he would have sought to “get out of the 2003 landfill contract” with Waste Management if WMI had not agreed to renegotiate that contract.

A major item of discussion in commissioners court in Georgetown on Tuesday morning and in Hutto on Tuesday night was the so-called “two-option limit” the county says it has regarding what to do with the 2003 landfill operation contract which has been repeatedly acknowledged
by county officials as a “terrible contract.”

According to both Gattis and Steve Ackley, the assistant county attorney who provided a sketchy synopsis of the revised contract draft in commissioners court, the county believes it only has two options regarding the bad 2003 contract: (1) leave it in place so it can continue, or (2) renegotiate it in order to get a better deal for the county.

Gattis’ statement to the Hutto City Council on Tuesday night was a major shift in that position.
Now Gattis is saying, in essense, that the county’s options were to renegotiate the contract if that is possible, but “get out” of the 2003 contract if that isn’t possible.

Essentially, Waste Management’s failure to agree to terms acceptable to the county is no different than refusing to renegotiate the contract at all, since both positions achieve the same result—no acceptable new contract.

This whole landfill issue and the disaster the county has turned it into comes down to two things the Judge and Commissioners have done wrong from the beginning: (1) the county has not negotiated effectively with WMI - allowed WMI to set the terms of the negotiation - and should have used their power to open up the bidding on the landfill to force WMI to agree to the most beneficial terms for the county, and (2) the commissioners and judge have ignored the citizens of the county, their constituents, and not involved them in the process.

Granted many of those on the court now were not around when the negotiations started, but they all promised to fix this Limmer lemon when they ran. I doubt any of them would have won if they’d have run on what they’re doing now. Everyone knows a project like this will turn out much better when those that live in that community are involved in the process of determining the course of action. Community buy-in is key to an issue like this and the county has done a poor job in that area. Jeff Maurice, the HCG Lanfill Committe Chairman, had this to say at the end of the newsletter that sums up pretty well what’s needed.

Maurice continued, “It should be abundantly clear that during these long and detailed discussions, we have sought to work with the county to cure the problems with the permit and the contract, and to end up with a project that is as beneficial as possible to county residents and the landfill neighbors. Unfortunately, the proposed permit and contract fall
far short of that goal, and we have worked long and hard to cure those situations, but we never have said that the entire landfill project should be shut down, and we want the judge, the commissioners, the public and the media to take notice of that fact.”

Duly noted. They don’t want the landfill stopped, but if they have to live next to a dump they deserve to have some input into how it will be administered. That’s not too much to ask and why these citizens are so upset. Williamson County residents understand that very well too, and ignoring their input is wrong and looks bad. This isn’t going away and the longer this goes on the worse the commissioners and judge look.

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