A comparison report featuring comparatively sized Upper Cumberland counties shows that Cannon County spends considerably less annually on solid waste disposal.
Prepared by Lisa Luck, solid waste planner for the Upper Cumberland Development District, the report featured Cannon along with Clay, Pickett, Macon, Overton and Jackson counties. Luck has worked as a solid waste planner a number of years in Cookeville and was asked to evaluate Cannon County's system following a solid waste meeting.
The per ton cost for each of these counties is: Cannon $80.62, Overton $85.37, Jackson $121.34, Macon $127.69, Clay $137.07 and Pickett $282.15.
"Our labor costs are low and we maintain only one collection site," explained County Executive Mike Gannon, explaining the lower cost per ton. "Our solid waste budget has been cut 7 percent since 2013 while other, much larger, departments' budgets haven't been cut at all.
"Solid waste is a burden on every county, but if we didn't collect it it would be dumped in the gullies and everywhere else," Gannon said. "I wish we could offer more collection sites, but that would raise the cost."
Most counties collect a "tipping fee" for citizens dumping trash at a landfill or convenience center. Cannon County does not.
"We've go some people suggesting that we do that and charge local farmers for dumping stuff like bailing twine and feed sacks," Gannon said. "I'm opposed to both of those ideas.
"Our citizens don't play anything extra. Operations are almost entirely paid for by property tax and sales tax," Gannon said, adding that he has long opposed charging a dumping fee. "They are already paying for it. We don't need to charge them again."
Cannon County's solid waste program falls under the jurisdiction of the County Executive.
"We are looking for ways to improve our efficiency. All county departments should do that," Gannon said. "There hasn't been one dime of local money spent on solid waste equipment since the early 1980s."
Population wise, Cannon County, with 13,801 residents, is midway between the six counties. Clay County (Celina) has 7,861 residents. Pickett (Byrdstown) has 5.077. Macon (Lafayette) has 22,248. Jackson (Gainesboro) has 11,509 and Overton (Livingston) has 22,083 residents.
Luck's report featured a breakdown of the six counties' solid waste departments showing both costs and the way they handle solid waste:
Cannon County - spent approximately $80.62 per ton managing waste in 2015. They collect solid waste and recyclables from residents at a location permitted both as a Convenience Center and Transfer Station. The waste is transported to Bfi Middlepoint Landfill. A total of 6,840.72 tons of solid waste was managed by the county and sent to the landfill. The total cost for managing this waste in 2015 was $551,510.00. Solid waste management is funded primarily through local property taxes. Bfi Middlepoint Landfill only has 11 years of life remaining so an alternative method of waste disposal will need to be explored in the near future.
Clay County - spent approximately $137.07 per ton managing waste in 2015. They utilize a private landfill located within Clay County to dispose of their solid waste. To help offset costs for managing solid waste, the county collected $55,000 in tipping fees and derived $26,914 from the sale of recyclables. A total of 3,129.57 tons of waste was disposed of in 2015. Upper Cumberland Landfill charges Clay County $35.00 in tipping fees to dispose of their solid waste. This private landfill only has approximately four years of life remaining. Owner, David Smith, seeks to build a new landfill on a neighboring 200 acres to have an additional 25 acres to utilize as a landfill.
Pickett County - spent approximately $282.15 per ton managing waste in 2015. This amount will decrease for 2016 because they closed their Class 1 Landfill in November 2015 due to the cost in maintaining and managing the landfill. The county could no longer afford to operate it. The county signed a contract with TDS to pick up household waste at their transfer station and dispose of the waste in the Clay County Landfill. TDS charges $36.50 per ton in tipping fees to manage the Class 1 solid waste. The closing of the landfill eliminated costs. Increased recycling will help offset costs. TDS provides all the heavy equipment needed to handle the waste and transportation, which also will save the county money in managing solid waste in 2016. In 2015, Pickett County disposed of a total of 3,150.29 tons of waste.
Macon County - spent approximately $127.69 per ton managing waste in 2015. They have a transfer station and haul their household waste to Smith County Landfill for disposal. They are a part of the North Central Region. Several counties partnered to keep solid waste costs low by agreeing to utilize Smith County Landfill. Smith County Landfill will be filled to capacity within four years. Smith County is exploring other disposal options. Macon County pays $33.00 per ton in tipping fees to Smith County Landfill. Macon County closed their county landfill over 15 years ago. Macon County is constructing a Recycle Center so they can process recycling and generate revenue for the county to help offset solid waste costs. They hope to build another Transfer Station on the other side of the county, in the near future, to expand services to rural residents. Macon County disposed of a total of 1,498.29 tons of waste in 2015. The cities of Red Boiling Springs and Lafayette disposed of their own waste, so tonnages were not included in this number.
Jackson County - spent approximately $121.34 per ton managing waste in 2015. They haul waste from convenience centers to Clay County Landfill. They recently signed a contact with TDS to lock in tipping fees at $34.25 per ton. They do not have a transfer station and manage each convenience center with their front loader. Waste is carried by county equipment to the Clay County Landfill. They would like to put in a Transfer Station so waste could be consolidated and compacted to reduce the number of trips to the Landfill. However, it would cost a minimum of $200,000 to build a transfer station, and this would not include costs for purchasing needed equipment. Jackson County disposed of 3,586.48 tons of waste in 2015.
Overton County - spent approximately $ 85.37 per ton managing waste in 2015. They have a Transfer Station where waste is consolidated. Waste is managed by Waste Connections at $ 32.00 per ton. The waste is hauled to Volunteer Regional Landfill. Overton County derives revenue from sales of recyclables, which helps offset their solid waste costs. In 2015, almost $90,000 was derived from the sale of recyclables. They also received approximately $302,000 in tipping fees from residents in tipping fees to help offset the tipping fees paid to Waste Connection. Overton County disposed of 43,581.91 tons of household waste in 2015.