Kanawha County Commission: Hardy backs aid for recycling center
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County Commissioner Dave Hardy said he would support providing the Solid Waste Authority a one-time allocation to help construct a new recycling center.
Hardy made the statement during Thursday's meeting where a task force report on how to deal with the county's recycling crisis was presented to commissioners.
Hardy's support would hinge on whether the authority could obtain a low-interest loan from the West Virginia Solid Waste Management Board to build a new recycling center on the Slack Street site.
The task force explored whether the Kanawha County Solid Waste Authority should completely privatize its recycling operations.
The task force, made up of Hardy, other county and Charleston Area Alliance officials as well as local business leaders, also looked at whether the Solid Waste Authority should enter into a public/private partnership or if the organization should simply turn recycling over to a private company.
The task force has been working on the report for about 60 days.
The authority has been hemorrhaging money since the recycling center closed in March. The 104-year-old building was closed due to structural issues and the discovery of combustible dust.
The authority continues to collect recyclables but is unable to process the material in the building. Therefore, items are sent to Raleigh County, which ends up costing the authority about $20,000 a month, Hardy said.
Authority board members are exploring a public/private partnership with West Virginia Recycling Services.
A partner with the company, George Hunyadi, has claimed West Virginia Recycling Services could get the center operational again after an approximately $250,000 investment.
However, this deal may now be on hold.
Commission President Kent Carper asked authority board chairwoman Kay Summers if the possibility of securing the loan would change the organization's plans to "ink" a deal with West Virginia Recycling Services.
"I would like to take this back to my board," Summers responded.
The Solid Waste Authority will meet to discuss the proposed partnership and the possibility of securing a $750,000 state loan from the Solid Waste Management Board on Dec. 4, she said.
The interest rate for the loan could be as low as 1 percent, said Mark Holstine, executive director of the Solid Waste Management Board. The longest loan provided by the agency was for 15 years, Holstine said during a previous interview.
Holstine attended Thursday's meeting. He had encouraged the Solid Waste Authority to continue to operate the center and obtain a loan to upgrade the facility, he said.
Carper also asked Summers why the authority had not bid out the proposed public/private partnership instead of working with West Virginia Recycling Services specifically.
Holstine had told the authority board the project did not need to be bid out, Summers responded.
However, Holstine responded that although he had informed the board members that they were not required to bid the project out, that he did encourage them to do so.
After the meeting had concluded, Summers claimed the authority had contacted numerous companies about a possible partnership and that West Virginia Recycling Services was the only one that responded.
Carper also took another authority board member to task during the meeting. Board member Greg Sayre also attended the meeting, during which Carper said he could not even discuss the issue with him because of conflicts of interest.
"You have a conflict of interest as big as this courthouse," Carper told Sayre.
Sayre is the Department of Environmental Protection's appointee to the board. He is also a registered lobbyist, whose clients include West Virginia Cashin, a for-profit recycler.
Carper asked Sayre if his client had filed a lawsuit against West Virginia Recycling Services to block the deal with the authority. Sayre said his client had in fact filed a lawsuit against the company because of name infringement.
However, he denied it was done to block the deal between the company and the authority board.
"You should just resign (from the board)," Carper told Sayre.
Sayre said the lawsuit had been filed because there were several companies in the state that have names similar to West Virginia Recycling Services. Sayre will not resign, he said after the meeting.
In other commission news: The commissioners unanimously agreed to purchase radios for Chesapeake Volunteer Fire Department up to the tune of about $4,000.
The fire department officials had originally told the commissioners that they would be able to purchase the radios on their own. However, the fire department officials recently changed their tune and now say they do not have the money to purchase the radios.
Commissioners will pay the radio vendor directly.
Commissioners also agreed to close the courthouse on Christmas Eve. The courthouse will also be open for half a day on New Year's Eve.