County hears $7 million project

By Jeff Linville - jlinville@mtairynews.com
Carolyn Comer, left, register of deeds, and county Commissioner Gary Tilley, right, present certificates of appreciation to Donald Davis for his efforts in the deeds office, especially his devotion to record keeping and genealogy. - Jeff Linville | The News
The county commissioners recognize the members of the Health Foundation of the Health and Nutrition Center. Front row from left are Debbie Cave, Maggie Simmons, Samantha Ange, Barbara Anders, Libbie Inman, Dennis Barnett, Freida Love and Carmen Long. - Jeff Linville | The News

DOBSON — The expansion of the Surry County landfill could cost more than $7 million based off the latest estimates provided to county officials.

In March 2017, Public Works Director Dennis Bledsoe and contracted engineer Wayne Sullivan came before the county Board of Commissioners seeking approval to expand the landfill. At that time, the men were estimating the total cost would be about $5.7 million.

At Monday’s meeting, the men gave a presentation on the plans for the expansion along with an updated cost analysis. The expansion could cost $6,375,000. Then a new scale house and scales could cost as much as $840,000 more, putting the total cost at more than $7.2 million.

Bledsoe said this would be Phase 4 of the county landfill. This 18.2 acres would be to the west side of the current facilities.

At the current waste intake, this expansion would provide enough usable space for another 27 years, said Bledsoe, but that depends on population growth and any increased business recruitment.

Sullivan said the construction cost for this area is $6.05 million. Including engineering fees of $325,000, the total would be $6.375 million. He said these estimates are on the high side, and any contractor should come in under this total amount.

Scales are expensive and difficult to keep properly calibrated, said Bledsoe. Therefore, he said he would want to make sure the scale house is well built and can serve the county well so that no one has to come back later and try to build an addition or make structural improvements which could affect the scales on either side.

Better to build the scale house right the first time and never bother it again, he suggested.

This building would include two offices, computer server storage and restrooms as well as the transactions room where people would be making payments for their loads. The total area would be 1,800 square feet. The roof design would include an overhanging eave on each side so that if a driver has to get out of the vehicle in the rain, the eave keeps the weather off.

Sullivan gave the estimates for this work as $300,000 for scale house, $250,000 for scales, $50,000 for water/sewer, $100,000 grading for an access road, and engineering $70,000. Much of the contingency of $70,000 might not be necessary because these estimates also are on the high side, he said.

The last time the landfill had an expansion, the fees paid off the debt in six-and-a-half or seven years, said Bledsoe.

The county board asked Sarah Bowen, county finance officer about financing this project.

She said she had been on the phone all afternoon with someone about that very topic. The issue gets more complicated because the landfill also will need a new compactor and some other equipment before this debt could be cleared.

Basing the debt off $7.5 million, and expecting other needs, Bowen said the county could have this paid off in a decade — figuring in some potential rate increases every other year. Without the increases (or an uptick in business traffic), the landfill would need longer than 10 years to pay down the debt.

One of the commissioners asked about recycling costs. Bledsoe said the county doesn’t make enough off selling recyclable materials to recoup its expenses.

The state says it costs $377 a ton to handle recyclables at the landfill, he said, but it keeps that material out of the landfill space.

No change

This was the first board meeting since the May 8 primary. Two of the five commissioners were up for Republican Party approval for their seats, and both men lost their races.

Incumbent Larry Phillips lost to school official Bill Goins. Recent appointee Gary Tilley lost in a four-man race to Mark Marion.

As neither race had a Democrat challenger, the primary effectively was the election for the offices. Two years ago, Jimmy Miller lost his primary to Larry Johnson. Miller chose to step down at the next county meeting so that Johnson could get started learning about the budget as the board was holding workshops to discuss county needs.

However, both Phillips and Tilley were there at the meeting ready to fulfill their duties until the December swearing-in ceremony.

“I didn’t serve to quit,” said Phillips. There are things that he would like to see through to completion before his time comes to a close, such as getting a shell building for Elkin for economic expansion. A company looking to relocate isn’t going to wait for a building to be constructed, so you have to have something to show them, he said.

If some of these things come to pass, he said, then he can walk away feeling good about his time serving the county.

Carolyn Comer, left, register of deeds, and county Commissioner Gary Tilley, right, present certificates of appreciation to Donald Davis for his efforts in the deeds office, especially his devotion to record keeping and genealogy.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_IMGP0904_filtered.jpgCarolyn Comer, left, register of deeds, and county Commissioner Gary Tilley, right, present certificates of appreciation to Donald Davis for his efforts in the deeds office, especially his devotion to record keeping and genealogy. Jeff Linville | The News

The county commissioners recognize the members of the Health Foundation of the Health and Nutrition Center. Front row from left are Debbie Cave, Maggie Simmons, Samantha Ange, Barbara Anders, Libbie Inman, Dennis Barnett, Freida Love and Carmen Long.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_IMGP0908_filtered.jpgThe county commissioners recognize the members of the Health Foundation of the Health and Nutrition Center. Front row from left are Debbie Cave, Maggie Simmons, Samantha Ange, Barbara Anders, Libbie Inman, Dennis Barnett, Freida Love and Carmen Long. Jeff Linville | The News

By Jeff Linville

jlinville@mtairynews.com

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.