Regional Solid Waste Management Authorities

BENEFITS OF A REGIONAL APPROACH TO SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT NEEDS

The Georgia Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Act (the “Act”), enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Georgia in 1990, has placed a number of compliance, management and other requirements on cities and counties in dealing with their municipal solid waste stream. A regional approach to meeting the obligations imposed by the Act offers economies and efficiencies of scale that would be difficult for cities and counties to attain acting on their own.

A regional solid waste management authority could offer a variety of services to its participating cities and counties, all of which services would be enhanced through volume purchasing, full-time staff, centralization of compliance procedures, and development and centralization of specialization and expertise in pertinent matters. Some highlights of the possibilities of a regional solid waste management authority are set forth below:

  • Provisions and operation of solid waste disposal and facilities for use by a number of political subdivisions in a region.
  • Rotation of disposal sites among host participants.
  • Development of a cooperative relationship with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs and the Department of Natural Resources — Environmental Protection Division through constant and consistent contact on behalf of a number of participants.
  • Provision of advice or actual services and marketing of recycled goods, purchase of recyclable goods, public education and public service messages on composting, recycling and compliance needs.
  • Provision of equipment and personnel for the management and hauling of solid waste and the operation of disposal, recycling or processing facilities.
  • Management of record keeping, reporting and compliance require of all political subdivisions under the Act.
  • Application for permits on behalf of participants.
  • Development of personnel expertise and efficiency in all areas of solid waste management and regulatory compliance.
  • Development of expertise in the pertinent laws and technology to either inform and advise, or comply on behalf of, participating political subdivisions.

LEGAL AND ORGANIZATION STEPS

We have developed a procedure for the staged organization of a regional solid waste management authority. The first step is to obtain letters of intent to participate in the formation of the Authority from representatives of the local governments which would logically form the region. The letters of intent express the understanding of the cities and counties that the Authority’s powers would be initially limited to research and planning and would allay any concerns on the part of the local governments that they would become obligated by these initial steps to share in the costs of future projects of the Authority. An area map may be used to discuss the feasibility of individual local governments’ participation in a regional solid waste management authority, and a detailed questionnaire may be provided to representatives of each of the local governments requesting information on the status of their existing landfills and their solid waste management plans.

Those local governments whose participation in the Authority is determined to be feasible can then be given forms of Resolutions authorizing them to join in establishing the Authority and authorizing them to execute an Agreement Among Participants activating the Authority with the power to plan for regional solid waste management. The participating cities and counties would adopt the Resolutions at their regular meetings and individually execute the Agreement Among Participants.

After the cities and counties execute the Agreement Among Participants, the Authority would be empowered to apply the grant moneys available from governmental departments and agencies for planning purposes. The Agreement Among Participants could, at the option of those political subdivisions entering into the Agreement Among Participants, also authorize the Authority to borrow up to a reasonable amount to finance the Authority’s planning and research to the extent grant moneys are insufficient for that purpose.

Once the Authority is activated under the terms of the Resolutions and the Agreement Among Participants, the local governments would enter into a base contract with the Authority providing for the relationship among the local governments and the Authority, the Authority’s scope of operations and budget, and the means and form of payments by the local governments to the Authority. The Authority could be authorized under the terms of the base contract to provide a variety of services to its participants, including bulk purchasing of equipment and services, shared use of equipment and personnel, administrative assistance in compliance and reporting issues, the management of solid waste plans and disposal facilities, and collective applications for necessary permits.

Later supplemental contracts would be entered into from time to time among the Authority and the local governments determining to participate in a particular project, providing for the particulars of payment of individual series of bonds issued to finance particular landfill and other projects. Some or all of the cities and counties participating in the Authority might participate in and back financially any particular project undertaken by the Authority. A city or county participating in the Authority would not be financially obligated for an Authority project that it chose not to participate in. Cities and counties participating in an Authority might later withdraw upon discharging the obligations that they had contracted for.

June, 2007

© Copyright 2007, James P. Monacell, Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP. Copies may be made and distributed so long as the content is not altered and the authorship is not obscured.

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