Waste authority finalizes recycling agreement
Members of the Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority believe turning over operations at the Slack Street recycling center to a for-profit company was their best option.
County commissioners had asked Solid Waste Authority members if they would be willing to explore the possibility of applying for a state loan to upgrade the dilapidated recycling center.
However, authority chairwoman Kay Summers and the other members of the agency opted instead to sign a lease on Tuesday turning over operations at the recycling center to West Virginia Recycling Services.
Summers said the authority opted to sign the agreement because there was no guarantee they would receive the state loan.
"And we're too far down the road for that (loan)," she added.
Board member Richard Milam agreed.
"I don't think we have a choice but signing the lease," Milam said.
Summers said she was happy to have the lease signed after about six months of working with the company.
The Solid Waste Authority has struggled to continue to provide recycling services to residents and businesses in the county after the recycling center was closed in March because of structural issues and the discovery of combustible dust.
The authority still accepts material at a public drop off at a site near the recycling center. However, the authority has not been able to accept recyclables from many of the agencies and businesses that it used to provide services for because of a lack of processing capabilities.
So the amount of recyclables processed at the center has dropped significantly from about 800 tons a month to about 200 tons, said George Hunyadi, a partner with West Virginia Recycling Services.
And now Hunyadi is determined to regain the momentum lost after the recycling center was forced to close.
"In the end it's all about collaborating with all of the business and public agencies to get recycling tonnage back up," Hunyadi said after the lease was signed.
Hunyadi will be approaching local businesses and governmental agencies to encourage them to recycle.
Solid Waste Authority board member Rod Watkins, who worked closely with Hunyadi to finalize the lease agreement, hopes to have the tonnage recycled at the center up to 800 to 1,000 tons within the year, he said.
The Solid Waste Authority will concentrate on public outreach and education in an attempt to increase the amount of recycling in the county, Watkins said.
"If we do that well, then West Virginia Recycling Services will do well as will other recycling centers in the area," Watkins said.
There will be a transition period of about 35-40 days while the terms of the lease are enacted, he said. During that time, all eight employees at the recycling center will continue to serve as employees of the Solid Waste Authority.
However, those employees will have to interview for positions with West Virginia Recycling Center, Hunyadi said. He anticipates hiring three to six employees at the recycling center initially.
The number of employees at the center could increase if the amount of recyclables processed grows, he said.
The Solid Waste Authority will continue to employee two people, one of which will serve as the executive director.
Hunyadi will also attempt to hire people already working at the center.
"They know recycling and they know the business," he said.
Hunyadi also committed to helping with county cleanups, which are held seven times a year around Kanawha.
The Solid Waste Authority's assistance is vital to making the county clean ups a success, said Dave Armstrong, county planner. The Solid Waste Authority had previously hauled material from the clean up sites to the landfill, he said.
Residents from around the county bring items to cleanups for free disposal. The program has been very successful in keeping trash out of creeks and ravines around Kanawha, Armstrong said.
The lease is for five years with two five-year renewals being optional. The company will pay $1 a year to the Solid Waste Authority to lease the building and property.
The company will also pay the Solid Waste Authority $5.50 for every ton of recycling processed at the center, according to the lease.
West Virginia Recycling Services must process 25 percent of the average monthly tonnage calculated over the previous 12 months. If it fails to do so over 90 consecutive days, the building and all improvements will revert back to the Solid Waste Authority.
The company must also operate the recycling center for at least 45 consecutive days or 120 days out of a 180-day period or the building and its improvements will revert back to the authority.
The stipulations were added to the lease to ensure that the company would use the building as a recycling center, Watkins said.
There is no opt-out clause for either party within the five-year lease term, he said. This was to protect the company by guaranteeing that future Solid Waste Authority boards would not kick them out of the building without cause, Watkins said.
The lease also addresses equipment and property leased to the Solid Waste Authority by Norfolk Southern Railway Company.
The railroad leases about 2 acres of land at the Slack Street center to the Solid Waste Authority for about $4,000 a year, Watkins said.
Storage bins are set up on the leased property, he said.
If the railroad company terminates this lease, then the Solid Waste Authority would have to pay West Virginia Recycling Services for the improvements to the Slack Street building because it could no longer be used as a recycling center, he said.
"We agreed to accept the risk because we don't think that will happen," Watkins said.
The company will also pay the authority an additional $1 on every ton of material processed at the center for the right to use some of the agency's equipment purchased using grant funds, he said.
That fee will be paid to the authority until the value of the equipment leased is covered, Watkins said.
West Virginia Recycling Services will also purchase other equipment owned by the authority. The value of the equipment is $105,000, Watkins said.
The company will install a new scale, worth about $70,000, at the center. That $70,000 will be used to offset the $105,000, he said.
That means the company will cut the Solid Waste Authority a check for about $35,000 for the equipment. Once installed, the scale will become the property of the Solid Waste Authority, Watkins said. Contact writer Paul Fallon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4817. Follow him at www.twitter.com/PaulBFallon.