The city of Waco staff is recommending delaying a vote on a location for a new landfill until early next year, giving them time to study a wide range of alternatives to the controversial spot on Old Lorena Road.
But in the meantime, engineering work will continue on that city-owned site next to the Waco Regional Landfill, an indication that it’s not off the table, staffers said.
The Waco City Council will hear a short report on the site search and rate impact of the various options Tuesday at a 3 p.m. work session at the Bosque Theater at the Waco Convention Center. No action is scheduled at the 6 p.m. business session.
The council postponed a vote Nov. 7 on moving forward with the 292-acre site the city owns on Old Lorena Road, with council members saying they wanted more information on other options that have been identified.
Consultants have studied three other sites within 15 miles of Waco. Earlier this month, the consultants said the Old Lorena Road site has ideal geography for a landfill and represents the most cost-effective location. Rate projections estimate it would add only 30 cents to the average monthly residential bill of $14.20. The others would raise rates by $1.29 to $3.58, according to the study.
Council members appeared to be torn in weighing that extra cost against the opposition that neighbors in the Highway 84 corridor have mounted against the location. Opponents argue a new landfill in their area would cause odor, water quality and aviation safety problems.
Councilman Jim Holmes, an ally of those who oppose the Old Lorena Road site, also disputed consultant models that indicate other sites would increase haul distances and require the city to add new pickup routes.
The city staff is reviewing those calculations and looking in more detail at the consultant’s estimates of operational costs at the various sites.
“One question we’re asking is, ‘Do you get the same services if you move to a different site?’” City Manager Dale Fisseler said. “We want to make sure we have a well-informed decision.”
Among the services Fisseler was referring to is the current policy of allowing customers to take up to 2,000 pounds of trash to the landfill at no cost each month.
In addition, the staff is studying options championed by Highway 84 landfill opponents, including building a transfer station to haul trash beyond the normal short-haul distance limit of 15 miles. At the suggestion of the opponents, city officials will study the option of outsourcing garbage disposal to Republic Services, which runs a landfill in Itasca.
City officials have said they need to get started as soon as possible with the long task of permitting and building a new landfill, which could take seven years, about as long as the current landfill is expected to last.
Also on Tuesday, the council will hear a report on a long-simmering staff proposal to outsource janitorial services to a private business. Fisseler said the leading company city staff is considering appears to be willing to charge $500,000 a year to clean city buildings, about half the city’s current cost.
He said the business has indicated it is willing to extend health care and vacation benefits to full-time workers.
Fisseler said the outsourcing vote could happen in January or February, and the firm could be ready to take charge within 30 days.