Citing it as a necessary evil and a requirement to keep the Barton County Landfill gates open, the County Commission Monday morning approved the annual engineering services agreement for the facility.
The landfill operates under a permit issued by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and by Kansas statute, the permit requires that certain tasks be performed by a Kansas licensed professional engineer and geologist, said County Administrator Phil Hathcock, who also serves as the county’s solid waste director.
Historically, SCS Engineers of Wichita has provided the engineering services for the landfill and with the current permit expiring this month, SCS Engineers has proposed a qualification-based extension of the contract through 2022.
“Every year, the landfill gets more and more complicated with regulations,” Hathcock said. These cover such things as air, water and ground monitoring.
“This keeps us out of trouble with the KDHE,” he said.
This is the first year on a three-year, $150,300 contract with the firm. The annual cost is $50,100.
The price of the contract is about $12,000 higher than the previous one, he said. The cost of air monitoring has increased, and the county now accepts liquid waste and that has costs as well (although they are offset by the increased landfill revenue it generates).
Monies are allocated in the solid waste budget for this annual expense. The budget also contains about $5,000 per year for additional, on-call engineering expenses, but that is not tapped very often, Hathcock said.
“That’s just the cost of doing business,” commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz said. “Without it, we couldn’t have a landfill.”
Hathcock said they have bid this in the past, but felt that SCS was the best fit for the job. The county has worked with the firm in the past and it is also overseeing the engineering work on the new cell being developed at the landfill.
Besides, he said, SCS already has an extensive working knowledge of the county operation and has been a good partner. After the contract expires in 2022, the county may opt to rebid the services.
“Sometimes, it is very difficult to change vendors,” commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz said. Much like the annual audit, this is an example of a service provider that understands how the county functions.
The landfill is currently placing waste in the phase three of the facility. It is permitted to handle up to eight phases, or cells.
Phase three is not full. Improved compaction of the waste and ongoing recycling efforts have helped extend its life.
But, they are looking to the future, Hathcock said.
SCS Engineers submitted a proposal to prepare a set of construction plans, and specification and bid documents for use in the bidding and construction of phase four. The cost of $48,500 was approved in September of this year.
That was just the first step, and not the actual construction. That will cost around $1.5 million, an expense that is budgeted for 2020 when work is set to begin.
“We’ve planning for this,” he said. “We have plenty in reserves to cover it.”
Since phase three was added in 2011, the department has been setting money aside in anticipation of phase four.
Hathcock said he hopes the new cell will be completed by the fall of 2020.