The facility, which will be able to handle the city’s garbage through build-out (75,000 residents), had come to the council last month but was put on hold when a representative of Garaventa Enterprises offered to pay for a third party’s thorough analysis of Brentwood’s trash operation. The representative said he expected the analysis to show it was a better financial deal to use Garaventa’s Pittsburg facility rather than build the new station.
A subcommittee of councilmen Chris Becnel and Erick Stonebarger was appointed to work with Garaventa on the analysis. An initial review of operating expenses showed hauling Brentwood’s refuse to Pittsburg would result in $2.4 million in cost increases, Becnel reported Tuesday, so the subcommittee decided not to initiate the comprehensive study.
Councilman Brandon Richey said that the failure to finish the study made it impossible to review other important information he had hoped to see, including potential revenues from better handling of recycled materials. He also challenged the assumptions used in the smaller review concerning the impact the trips to Pittsburg would make on the life expectancy of trucks.
One resident said he did not like the idea of using a transfer station instead of hauling the waste to Pittsburg, because the latter is a full-service Mixed Refuse Facility (MRF) and could do a better job keeping up with ever-changing laws about recycling and greenhouse gas reduction. The planned facility was just a concrete floor and four walls, he said, and it would cost millions more to upgrade its recycling handling capability.
Becnel, however, said the city did not intend to enter the recycling business, as it was more cost effective to send the waste, presorted by customers, to a facility that can do it better.
Stonebarger said he favored moving the facility from its current location next to Sunset Fields to city-owned property about a half-mile north, but he opposed spending the money at this time. He preferred to wait until the station was closer to capacity, possibly five to 10 years down the road, depending on how fast the economy recovers. The current facility now handles 160 tons per day, and can handle up to 200 tons per day.
During the staff report on the item, Assistant City Engineer Paul Eldredge informed the council that the new plant would take about three years to build. About $7.1 million of the costs have already been set aside, he said, and the remaining $2.7 million would come from fees already built into the city’s trash rate; there would be no increase in trash rates to customers.
Councilman Bob Brockman said that, given the current construction climate, the money already in the bank that must by law be spent on the city’s solid waste operation, and the fact that the city had been planning for this facility for many years, “We would be foolish if we didn’t pursue” the facility as planned. He also expressed dismay over an avalanche of nearly identical e-mails that swamped City Hall leading up to the vote, and noted the city’s unfavorable history with Garaventa. Garaventa had been Brentwood’s trash hauler in the 1990s, when rising rates resulted in the city’s decision to break its agreement with Garaventa (ultimately paying a $1 million penalty) and take care of its own trash.
“We were married” to Garaventa, Brockman said. “We got divorced, and it was nasty. Now you want to get married again?”
A motion to continue with the new facility’s design work passed 3-2, with Stonebarger and Richey dissenting. The project will come back to the council when the design is complete, prior to going out for construction bids.