Decision to be made soon on five-municipality landfillPublished 10:28pm Monday, June 7, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
The Niles Charter Township Board decided at its meeting Monday night that it does not have enough information to give Supervisor Jim Kidwell any direction on an important decision regarding the Southeast Berrien County Landfill, which is owned by five municipalities, including the township.
The landfill authority board, which Kidwell sits on, will vote June 16 on whether to pursue a $1 million bank loan in order to build a new cell for the landfill. The current cell is expected to be completely full by next spring.
Given the fact that the landfill, which is also owned by the City of Niles, the city and township of Buchanan and Bertrand Township, is running on a $700,000 deficit and the township is the most liable for it, the board asked that Kidwell move to table the motion until more information about the status of the landfill is provided.
Treasurer Jim Ringler was adamant that the board get more information on how the the landfill accrued such a deficit, how the business will be run in the future and whether it has the potential to start making money.
Kidwell expressed to the members of the board that since he got no direction from them that he would vote his own opinion which is to not pursue the loan.
“I’m not going to put my constituents in harm’s way,” Kidwell said, expressing that Niles Township residents would pay dearly in the event of a spill or contamination since the township is most liable.
Kidwell has been a frontrunner in the effort to sell the landfill. He believes the landfill could bring in between $30 million and $40 million, and the landfill authority board is currently seeking an appraisal.
If the municipalities were to sell the landfill, they would then not have to deal with constructing a new cell, since most owners would prefer to install it themselves.
Richard Haigh, a representative of Bertrand Township, the municipality that gains the most money from the landfill, argued that it should not be sold during public comment.
“One qualm is that if a private person owned the landfill, he would raise rates and would look to turn a profit,” he said. “Disposal rates would go up.”
No decision will be made regarding the sale of the landfill until it is appraised.