City and county officials want a long-term pact with the landfill serving Douglas County to guarantee reasonable trash pickup rates for residents and plenty of space to dump garbage.
Negotiations are under way with Rod Hamm, owner of the Jefferson County-Douglas County landfill, officials said.
"What I'm most concerned about is that we arrive at a price that is a good deal for the residents and able to cover costs for the (landfill) operator," said Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug.
The long-term agreement also would ensure the county has a place to take trash as landfill space becomes a rarer commodity and more expensive to maintain.
"We're not the only user of the landfill, and he (Hamm) is actively searching for other customers," City Manager Mike Wildgen said.
The county is obligated by state law to provide a place to dump trash, Weinaug said. The city is involved in negotiations because most county trash comes from Lawrence residents.
THE COUNTY contracts with the Jefferson County-Douglas County landfill, north of Lawrence off U.S. Highway 24-59 in southern Jefferson County.
Landfill owner Rod Hamm could not be reached for comment this morning.
Wildgen said the city and county hope to strike an agreement to reserve space that will be good for at least 20 years.
"It looks like he is going to be the regional landfill," Wildgen said, noting that several cities, including Olathe, are running out of landfill space and are interested in contracting with Hamm.
"Not every county and city is going to have a landfill. We're not the only customer, and we want to make sure we do have space," Wildgen said.
In addition, the cost of operating a landfill has skyrocketed during the last decade because of an increasing number of state and federal regulations, Weinaug said.
"THAT OBVIOUSLY has impact on how much you pay (to dump trash)," and in turn how much residents pay for trash pickup, Weinaug said.
Federal requirements scheduled to go into effect in October 1993 include new artificial lining systems for the landfill, new specifications regarding groundwater and methane gas safety, and record keeping.
The current fee for dumping waste in the 430-acre landfill or "tipping fee" is $15.52 a ton.
Hamm said in a July interview that the tipping fee would increase by $1.50 per ton in January to help finance a state solid-waste management program, run by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Because of the increased cost of operating the landfill, Hamm said he would seek a general fee hike when negotiating with the city and county.
Weinaug and Wildgen said they wanted long-term controls on dumping fees, but would not specify figures under negotiation.
OPENING A county or city landfill is not a realistic option, the two officials said.
"The cost for developing the landfill would be much higher than what we're paying," Weinaug said, "It's also a very difficult thing for a governing body to do, to find a spot for the landfill."
Wildgen predicted an agreement with Hamm would be reached within a month.