Amidst the muscular turnout of hundreds of Axtell area residents protesting the July 31 Waco City Council vote to purchase land near Axtell for a possible city-run regional landfill, an Axtell resident asked a Trib editorial board member present why more Waco residents weren’t also outraged over the issue. Our answer may have been discouraging but was at least honest: Many of us in political life simply don’t concern ourselves with such issues till they actually land in our backyard or impact our pocketbook.
In that regard, the controversial landfill issue may be moving in directions that now command more attention of city taxpayers, certainly beyond just those living near the site of the other proposed landfill site off Old Lorena Road near U.S. Highway 84. As Trib staff writer Phillip Ericksen reported Aug. 8, consultants have begun crunching hard numbers on costs involved in placing a regional landfill near Axtell — some 15 miles from Waco city limits — versus costs involved in placing the site next to the current landfill in West Waco.
Creating the next landfill just off TK Parkway near the rural communities of Axtell and Mount Calm would cost the city of Waco almost $2 million more in infrastructure (including significant road work on the narrow, bumpy farm-to-market road) and another $2.4 million more in annual hauling costs compared to the originally proposed site off Old Lorena Road, consultants told council members. Monthly residential garbage rates would increase from $14.20 to $14.79 for the Old Lorena Road site or $17.43 for the TK Parkway site.
And City Manager Wiley Stem III told council members that yet other factors — including more environmental studies and the potential loss of commercial customers at either site (cutting city revenue) — could affect cost estimates. He acknowledged the “fairly rich suite of services” offered to city of Waco customers at present “and, as we look at the distances and how we manage that, it could have some operational impact on that, though we would like to hang on to all of those.”
As all this begins to take shape concerning mounting costs and logistical challenges, many more city residents should seriously scrutinize information from City Hall as well as other sources as it becomes available — not just the folks along or near Highway 84 opposed to the Old Lorena Road site. To expand upon a shrewd comment on grim realities involving income demographics in much of Waco by 29-year-old Axtell resident Heather Nevills at the July 31 hearing, this is an issue that might not only impact city sanitation rates but even threaten some services now offered.