by Ron Gregory | firstname.lastname@example.org
MADISON — In what Boone County officials believe is an eleventh-hour development, it was generally agreed Wednesday that plans to close two trash transfer stations in the county may be delayed past January 30. Officials with the state Public Service Commission maintain they have always informed Boone officials that closing the facilities at the end of the month is in jeopardy.
At issue, apparently, is whether the county provided sufficient notice to customers of the two stations and if the county has adopted an alternative plan for those users to receive similar services. Boone County Commissioners maintained, at their regular Tuesday evening meeting, that they had met both of those obligations.
An attorney representing the Town of Madison and the Town of Danville disputes those claims. Wendell Cook, a Madison lawyer, filed paperwork for the towns to intervene in the matter late last week. Earlier this week, the PSC granted permission for the two to intervene.
According to documents provided by the PSC, the organization’s intention has always been to hold hearings with a planned May 11 date for a final decision in the case. The County Commission staff has consistently informed the Commission that, after applying for a 120-day request to close the facilities, they were on target for closure on January 30.
PSC spokeswoman Susan Small said the conflicting views may be an issue of an “innocent misunderstanding.” She maintained, however, that a staff utility analyst had spoken with Boone Commission staff on Wednesday “to make it clear that they cannot close those two stations without PSC approval.”
In order to potentially receive such approval, the county will need to show that an alternate plan has been offered to all users, she said. County Commission President Eddie Hendricks told Cook Tuesday that the Commission felt posting signs at the stations and at other locations in the county was sufficient notice.
Cook, on the other hand, insisted that the Commission, which acts as a Solid Waste Authority in Boone, was required to notify “every voter and every taxpayer” in the county. Commissioners said that because users of the stations were not required to provide their names, there was no master list of customers.
All three Commissioners, Hendricks, Mickey Brown and Atholl Halstead, have said they do not want to close the stations but must do so because of dwindling revenues. The trio has said that they made various attempts to find a private company willing to take over the locations but those efforts were in vain.
At two prior meetings, there were expressions of hope that Republic would take over the stations. However, Brown said Wednesday he had been told “they have said they will haul garbage but they are not interested in operating the transfer stations, either.”
An ad hoc committee, spearheaded by Madison Mayor Sonny Howell, has been meeting in hope of keeping the stations open. At a recent County Commission meeting, group spokesman former Sheriff Rodney Miller, said the organization’s purpose had been to find “reasonable alternatives” to closure. He said he felt the Commission and the ad hoc committee should work together to find a solution to the problem.
Brown said late Wednesday that the Commission has sought the input of Prosecutor Keith Randolph in solving the closure dilemma. “What I don’t understand,” Brown said, “is how they can order us to keep them open when we have no money to pay for them.”
Meanwhile, the committee planned to meet at 5 p.m., Thursday evening, at Madison City Hall.