Operating a landfill is more difficult than it used to be. Part of the reason is that environmental concerns are always front and center. And there is no such thing as closing up shop and walking away; federal law and regulations are very stringent on what is involved in closing a landfill.
Eloy, like other cities in Pinal County and across the country, has a landfill. In this case, it has been operated since the middle of the last century. Rather than running out of space, the city faces a challenge because handling a small volume of refuse means costs are spread out over fewer payers.
The city has been studying the possibility of finding a private operator. The discussion began in April. If the issue were a simple one, it would have been resolved by now. Actually, the city had a consultant study done two years before that, and it found that revenue associated with the landfill was not covering costs.
Discussion ensued about finding a private company to buy or operate the landfill, with current employees hired if they did not switch to another city job. However, the matter still is pending.
Part of the problem with city-owned utilities, and it has been true in Eloy in the past, is that there is a reluctance to raise rates along with costs because of political pressure. That contributes to a need to subsidize operations on an on-going basis.
Fast-forward to this month, and city officials were shocked by an anonymous flyer distributed to all residents saying the city planned to sell the landfill to a national waste company. This did not sit well with Mayor Micah Powell, who said no such decision had been made.
Powell called a special meeting of the City Council at 6 p.m. next Monday to provide information and hear community concerns. That is a good approach. The city may indeed get out of the landfill business, but if that happens, an attempt will be made to prove that it’s best for Eloy citizens.
— Donovan Kramer Jr.