Decatur County commissioners made a peace offering of sorts to City of Bainbridge officials on Tuesday night when they unanimously voted to lift the ban on Bainbridge municipal garbage going to the Decatur County Landfill.
Back in April 2014, when the City of Bainbridge decided to start sending its garbage to a landfill in Campbellton, Fla., instead of the Decatur County landfill, Decatur County commissioners responded by immediately banning City of Bainbridge trucks from going to the landfill.
It was an overnight decision that caused some inconvenience for the City of Bainbridge, which was still finishing construction of its transfer station and intended to make the transition to Campbellton gradually. Instead, for almost a month, City of Bainbridge garbage trucks made multiple trips per day from Bainbridge to Florida, consuming lots of fuel as it did so.
Watch a clip from Tuesday night’s Decatur County Commissioners meeting, in which the landfill motion was made:
The decision to lift the landfill ban came as a surprise during Tuesday night’s Decatur County Board of Commissioners meeting. County Administrator Breedlove had just finished giving commissioners an update on the landfill’s recently completed Cell 4, which is about ready to accept garbage on a daily basis.
County Commissioner Pete Stephens, who was elected in Spring 2014 but didn’t take office until this month, made the motion to re-open the landfill gates to City of Bainbridge garbage trucks.
County Commissioner Butch Mosely asked whether Stephens knew if the City of Bainbridge intended to use the Decatur County Landfill off U.S. 27 South if the ban was lifted. Stephens said he didn’t know but thought lifting the ban would be a gesture of goodwill on the county’s part.
‘Opening the closed doors’ between county and city governments
“They may not use it, but I’d like to see the ban lifted in case they wanted to use it,” said County Commissioner Russell Smith.
“I think much time has spent with that, it would be a good gesture on our part, to move forward and lift that suspension,” said Dennis Brinson, chairman of the Board of Commissioners.
Currently, city garbage trucks take trash to the waste transfer station off Georgia 97 South, then a semi-trailer truck takes a container of compressed garbage 53 miles down the highway to Campbellton, Fla. On average, the semi-trailer truck makes an average of two daily round trips to the Campbellton landfill, which is owned by Waste Management.
Breedlove speculated the City of Bainbridge might opt to take its afternoon load of garbage from the transfer station to the Decatur County landfill to avoid drivers having to work overtime hours. Also, the Decatur County landfill was recently approved to open up an area for inert waste, including sand, concrete and construction materials.
After the meeting, county commissioners shared their thoughts on lifting the landfill ban.
Pete Stephens: “I felt it would be a good gesture on our part, to show the city we want to work together and solve these issues we face.”
George Anderson: “It shows city leaders we want to get along.”
Rusty Davis: “[Lifting the ban] is part of opening some doors that have been closed for a while. We want to work together.”
In related news, a court-ordered mediator has been appointed in the service delivery negotiations. The City of Bainbridge took legal action to force talks after county leaders, in the view of city leaders, failed to respond to invitations for joint discussion of service delivery issues.
As for how the City of Bainbridge may respond to the gesture of goodwill, we have a thought. The City of Bainbridge has indicated an intent to tear down a number of condemned houses and other structures, for safety and to reduce urban blight. However, it has had nowhere to take the rubble of any structures it tears down. Perhaps, since the rates for the inert landfill are lower than the normal garbage tipping fees, the City of Bainbridge and Decatur County commissioners could strike a deal to have those materials taken to the Decatur County landfill.