Audit Says Hoods Mill Landfill Should Not Be Expanded

Recommendationis To Shut Down Facility Once It's Full

May 15, 1991|By Adam Sachs | Adam Sachs,Staff writer

The County Commissioners should consider closing the Hoods Mill Landfill in South Carroll when it is filled -- instead of expanding it --to save approximately $3 million in construction costs and $225,000 annually in operating costs, an internal audit says.

Some of the estimated $225,000 would be transferred to alternative waste management operating costs, the audit says.

The recommendation was included in a 48-page audit of the Bureau of Solid Waste Management released last week that suggests ways the agency could improve operations and save money. The audit, performed by the County Bureau of Internal Audit, concluded that the solid wastebureau is "generally operating in an effective manner," but that "improvements can be realized."

Solid waste management has been one of the county's most pressing concerns in recent years. Carroll officials are evaluating the feasibility of a regional waste-to-energy plant, considering changes in the trash collection and disposal system, developing a recycling program, reviewing landfill fees and closing abandoned dumps that have caused contamination.

The proposed fiscal 1992 capital budget targets $2.5 million to close one section of the Hoods Mill Landfill and open another. If expanded, the landfill couldbe operated for about 10 more years.

Solid waste bureau managers suggested that money could be saved by closing Hoods Mill once existing cells are filled, says the audit. Then, a transfer station could be created where waste would be collected for eventual transport to the Northern Landfill outside Westminster.

Commercial haulers would be required to dump at Northern.

The undeveloped section of Hoods Mill should be considered as an ash fill if a waste-to-energy plant becomes reality, said Jack Curran, solid waste bureau chief. It also could be converted to a transfer station for a waste-to-energy plant and a facility for processing recyclables, he said.

"Not a whole lot of counties operate two landfills, but that's what the commissioners wanted 10 years ago," said Curran. "So much has come up since then that we're re-evaluating the use of the (Hoods Mill) landfill."

County auditors and the solid waste bureau will study the issue, said Steven D. Powell, director of the Department of Management and Budget.Their findings are to be incorporated in a comprehensive solid wastemanagement plan to be completed later this year.

"The audit staffdid a cursory review," said Powell. "Now we need a more thorough analysis."

County Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Elmer C. Lippy Jr.said they were uncertain that closing the landfill actually would save money. They said they have discussed several options for the landfill.

Curran said the usable portion of Hoods Mill should be filled by late 1992.

Auditors also recommended that:

* The bureau, which asked for a $28,500 supplement in fiscal 1990 for unanticipated costs, improve its cash management.

* Landfill sanitation facilities be improved so they will comply with federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations.

* Landfill managers examine erosion- and sediment-control measures, which have been cited as unsatisfactory by state inspectors. Curran contends that the county has made proper provisions.

* Eliminate non-productive time spent transporting workers from the Maintenance Center to the landfills.

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