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Concerned Citizens Voice Opinion on Burley's Transfer Station During County Hearing

Chad Harris signs in Oct. 16 at the Cassia County Planning and Zoning hearing.

LAURIE WELCH, the voice

BURLEY — Burley officials will contemplate whether they still want to move forward building a waste transfer station for city garbage after a meeting Monday with Cassia County commissioners.

The commissioners asked Southern Idaho Solid Waste district officials to review the city’s study on the new station because the waste district would also be involved.

The city has been planning for years to build the new station and wants the county to help pay for it since there are stations in other parts of the county. But solid waste district officials say the waste district would have to own and operate the station.

The study looked at several options for the station, including the preferred one on city-owned land west of Burley.

Josh Bartlome, CEO, of Southern Idaho Solid Waste, said although there were some “good aspects” to the study, prepared by Forsgren Engineers, the study used outdated or incorrect figures and they would have to determine how the costs, including maintenance and operation, would be paid.

The waste district would be willing to help update and clarify information for the study if the city and county decide to move forward.

Bartlome said the county pays $600,000 a year to the district and the county would incur an additional $300,000 in costs per year for operation and maintenance of the station. Bartlome said the $300,000 is a ballpark figure, but a good estimate.

If the project moves forward, the government entities would need to decide if the costs would be paid through solid waste assessments or tipping fees, he said.

Consideration would also have to be given to commercial users who may try to use the station to save money.

Bartlome said it would have to be open to the rest of the county.

“When we first talked about a transfer station we realized it would be open to residents in the county but I don’t think we ever considered commercial drop-off at the transfer station,” city councilman John Craner said.

County Commission chairman Bob Kunau said he’s in favor of the transfer station, but it should save money, not cost more.

Kunau said the construction costs also seem high. The county built a judicial center for two-thirds of the proposed $3.6 million cost that are estimated for the station.

City administrator Mark Mitton said the city’s original concept was to build a transfer station for city use so the city’s garbage trucks would not have so far to travel and they would not be torn up at the landfill.

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Mitton said the concept has changed since it was first proposed.

Burley Councilman Casey Andersen said half the county’s population lives in the city, and all city residents pay the same waste transfer assessment to SISW as the county residents, but they do not receive any benefit from it. City residents also pay a monthly fee to the city for garbage removal.

“Burley residents are subsidizing everyone else,” Andersen said. “They shouldn’t have to pay that unless they have a transfer station of their own.”

City residents are county residents too, he said, and they don’t feel like they are being treated the same.

Mitton said maybe the city should compact the city’s trash and haul it to another district by railroad. Bartlome said district bylaws state that all waste generated in the county has to go to the solid waste district.

“That can’t even be done legally,” he said.

The Council will discuss whether to move forward with the project at an upcoming city meeting.

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