by Ron Gregory
MADISON — A coalition formed in an attempt to save Boone County’s garbage transfer stations agreed Wednesday evening to seek a meeting with the County Commission.
Although the group, assembled at Madison City Hall with Mayor Sonny Howell presiding, was clearly not pleased with earlier discussions with Commissioners, they heeded the advice of Municipal League Director Lisa Dooley and former Sheriff Rodney Miller to request a follow-up meeting with Commissioners.
“They did ask us to report back to them,” Miller told the 35 people in attendance including all the county’s Mayors. “Technically, we haven’t done that and I think we should.”
Both Miller and Dooley spoke in opposition to some who suggested the group should seek an immediate injunction to stop the proposed January 30 closing of the transfer stations. Dooley told Howell he “can certainly talk to a lawyer and discuss that but I believe we will accomplish more being non-confrontational.” Miller said he felt the same and the group, as a whole, eventually settled on asking for a meeting with Commissioners.
Miller told the group the next Commission meeting is at 10 a.m., January 19, and he would ask to be placed on the agenda. Howell said the City of Madison would take the lead on any legal action, if required, despite the fact that “closing those transfer stations doesn’t affect the City of Madison in any way. We just think it’s the right thing to do.”
Miller said his posture will be to advise the Commission “that we have a number of interested parties who will keep the transfer stations in operation and we think the recycling aspect can be handled as well. We just need more time than January 30 to work it all out. We’ll more or less be asking for an extension on the closure date. That’s all.”
Dooley pointed out, as has been reported before, that Boone is the only county in West Virginia where the County Commission is the county Solid Waste Authority. “Because of that, I have no track record of how something like this can be worked out,” said Dooley. “But my experience tells me working WITH another government unit is better than working AGAINST them, if it’s at all possible.”
Miller pointed out that County Commissioners have previously said closure of the transfer stations will cause no layoffs in county government. “They have said they will just transfer the employees to other places in county government.” It was reported by Deputy Assessor Susan Baisden that payroll for the current station employees has been listed at about $400,000 per year.
Assessor Jennings Miller spoke in support of the group’s plan, saying he felt it made “political sense” for the Commissioners to help keep the facility open. Danville Town Manager Josh Barker agreed.
County Commissioners have consistently said severe budget cuts, fueled mostly by a loss of nearly $4 million in Coal Severance taxes has caused their decision to close the transfer stations. Most who spoke Wednesday night said residents of the county are willing to pay an annual fee, if necessary, to keep the facilities open.
Miller said he will advise the group if he is granted a spot on the January 19 agenda. His update will appear in the Corridor Chronicle
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