As a petition signer and someone who solicited others to sign, I’m disappointed in the actions of county commissioners and their vote not to sell the landfill as reported in last week’s Mount Airy News. Not in the action, because no one is suggesting the county sell the landfill, but in the reasoning behind it.
The vote appeared to be driven by Commissioner Paul Johnson. I know Mr. Johnson as someone who typically listens to citizens and is very responsive about getting things done, but on this occasion he was listening to people who didn’t have the facts. Because of that information, he suggested those who support a petition from Waste Industries are frightened and misled by an appeal to turn the landfill into a revenue stream that not only generates money from its sell, but provides new jobs and funding for schools, roads, etc.
The petition, which he apparently had not seen, does not mention any of those things. It reads: “We, the undersigned residents and business leaders of Surry County, urge the County Commissioners to support future economic development by supporting Waste Industries’ plan to operate our landfill efficiently and effectively. We understand that landfill management is a vital part of our economy and tax base. We believe we should encourage economic development activities that create jobs and expand our tax base.”
People who discussed the plan before signing the petition, while not in possession of all the information about the landfill and county finances, know that Waste Industries has no intention of buying the landfill and does, in fact, hope to lease it, thus providing that ongoing stream of revenue that Mr. Johnson said would not exist.
While our landfill crew does an excellent job with the technology and training they have, anyone who has ever visited the landfill and tried to drive a pickup out of the mire of the day’s trash must believe that there should be a better way to dispose of waste. At the same time, when it comes to recycling, it’s easy to believe that being part of a larger network would lead to a more comprehensive program and more waste kept out of the landfill.
Acting on behalf of the county residents is one thing, but reacting because a position could be controversial and a headache to deal with is another. Our county leaders voted preemptively to avoid discussion and debate and that is disappointing.
Since Waste Industries’ plan doesn’t call for the landfill purchase, the action taken by county leaders won’t have any impact on the proposal. Those of us who signed the petition hope county commissioners will listen with an open mind to all constituents and company officials and act in the best interest of the county, not their political positions, when it comes time to make a decision.