April 18, 2015
This week in the Monticello News there was an ad asking for citizens to serve on the new Solid Waste Authority enacted by the BOC after a closed door meeting. Don’t be fooled! Unless you are particularly chosen by members of the BOC, you won’t serve even if you do volunteer.
Why do I say that? Because at the BOC meeting Thursday night, April 16th, both Comm. Trammell and Comm. Salmon were busy asking people to serve—not waiting to see who has volunteered. It has been said that Comm. Salmon has already taken someone he wants on the SWA out to the landfill to show them around.
Comm. Luke told me that “this will be a citizen’s committee because there will be 4 citizens on it.” Yep! Citizens that the BOC will choose, that will do what the 3 commissioners serving want done. The BOC would be afraid to have someone on the SWA that could actually think for themselves and read the laws concerning SWA’s.
The article in the April 9th Monticello News about the BOC meeting was titled: “Commission Allays Some Landfill Fears”
THE BOC DID NOT ALLAY MY FEARS BUT ADDED TO THEM. Citizens of this county are not quite as ignorant as the commissioners make them out to be, and that was obvious from the variety of questions that were asked during the Q&A session of the BOC meeting on April 6. The problem is, there were either no answers or the answers were more or less double talk.
One thing that the county attorney (James Alexander) said during the meeting was troubling to many of us that have read the Georgia Code concerning authorities. He said that the SWA would only be a fact finding authority, now, and he continued that it can only do what the BOC limits them to do.
These statements do not match with what the State law says. State law gives authorities their own powers, which includes borrowing money, buying land, condemning land, making contracts, and just about everything else the BOC can do, except levy property taxes. Once an authority is in place, the BOC no longer has control over what it does.
After the BOC meeting on April 16th, Comm. Salmon said to me, “The county attorney told us this authority is different because it is a ‘local’ authority and not a ‘state’ authority.” When I asked him, “Why was State Law quoted in the resolution then?” he didn’t have an answer and walked away.
If the only reason to set up a SWA is to “find out facts and make recommendations”, a citizens committee would be easier, faster, and more open and above board than having an authority in place. Even though such a committee was suggested by many at the citizens’ meeting at the Piedmont Fire Station meeting and again at the following BOC meeting, the BOC has completely ignored the citizens’ wishes. Does it make sense to have a quorum of commissioners on an authority when they can already determine what will and won’t happen at the landfill as members of the BOC?
The BOC did say that this would not be a regional landfill, but it would bring in regional waste. The public voiced its concern over additional hazardous materials being brought into our county, when the problem now is the hazardous waste that has been dumped at the landfill by Georgia Pacific. Again, the county attorney answered, “The certified landfill operator is the eyes of the landfill and hazardous things like asbestos won’t be allowed in.” Comm. Luke added, “It doesn’t matter what we bring in if we put it in a cell.” I would like to hear what the EPD says about that comment, especially since the C&D cells are not lined and hazardous materials can leach into the water aquifers. I also doubt the landfill operator searches every truck load coming into the landfill to find hazardous waste.
Comm. Gene Trammell made a point of telling those attending that he (they) had signed a non-disclosure agreement and couldn’t tell us who they were talking to or making an agreement with. Comm. Trammell has also told several people that he had not read the SWA Resolution, even though he voted on it. And the county attorney said the reason that the Resolution referred to the Georgia Code sections setting up Regional Solid Waste Authorities (12-8-50 and following) is because that is the only code section that can be used to set up a SWA. (The code says “This part shall be known and may be cited as the “Regional Solid Waste Management Authorities Act.”)
The fact that the BOC is not even considering rescinding the SWA resolution, has signed a non-disclosure agreement with someone, and uses such terms as “for now” and “at this time” surely makes me wonder if there is not already some type of commitment in place. Advertising for members to serve on a SWA seems to be nothing more than cover for what has already been decided and possibly done.
All citizens will have to stay diligent, attend meetings, and continue to let the commissioners know we don’t like secret deals that will affect us for decades to come.
Citizens, be informed and stay informed! Only by being informed can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.