Macon landfill fails inspection again

Macon landfill fails inspection again

Source: Macon Telegraph (GA), February 12, 2014
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The Macon-Bibb County landfill is still falling below state environmental standards, and this time regulators are talking about serious penalties.

Environmental Specialist Clayton Bristol inspected the Walker Road facility Jan. 23 and found multiple violations, many of which are holdovers from numerous earlier reports, Scott Henson, a program manager with the state Environmental Protection Division, said in a Feb. 4 letter to Mayor Robert Reichert.

“The Division is cognizant of the recent rainfall and made adjustments in the inspection schedule,” Henson wrote. “However, given the number of recurring violations and maintenance issues, the Division has no other alternative than to seek additional enforcement action that will follow shortly after the receipt of this letter.”

In October 2011 the city of Macon was hit with a $35,000 fine for similar landfill violations.

County Manager Dale Walker told Macon-Bibb County commissioners about the failing score of 65 in a written report Tuesday.

In November 2012, for the only time in several years, the landfill passed inspection with a score of 95. A passing score is 75. After that single success, “expectations were high it would be maintained,” Walker wrote.

But several subsequent inspections all drew failing scores. Now, Walker said, he has asked Assistant County Manager Steve Layson to investigate why the same problems keep cropping up. Facing a possible fine or related action, this time the city wants a serious change, Walker said.

Public Works Director Richard Powell didn’t immediately return a call or email requesting comment Tuesday afternoon.

In February 2012 Reichert fired Powell, calling him incompetent. Powell appealed the firing, and in October 2012 the Macon City Council voted narrowly to overturn his firing. Under the new Macon-Bibb government, department heads have no appeal from firing by the mayor.

Henson’s report cited exposed garbage, standing water, lack of grass, poor grading, even garbage washing into the stream on the south side of the landfill. Daily inspection reports from landfill workers didn’t document the consistent problems.

“Operating the facility in such a manner is a violation of the Permit, the Rules and Regulations for Solid Waste Management, and is considered a serious matter,” he wrote.

Commission actions

Commission committees met Tuesday morning and unanimously approved all but two items referred to them, said Janice Ross, assistant to the commissioners.

Those two items, both before the Facilities & Engineering Committee, dealt with renaming public property for individuals. One, a resolution to set a formal renaming policy, was tabled for more work. The other, to rename the Freedom Park gym for the Rev. Frank Ray, was pulled pending the new policy’s completion.

Commissioner Al Tillman voted against halting the renaming for Ray. A draft of the proposed policy says public property couldn’t be named for people who, like Ray, are still alive.

Among the items approved in committee:

— Asking the state to allow creation of a self-taxing district along Eisenhower Parkway, in hopes of spurring redevelopment of the commercial corridor.

Called a Community Improvement District, the designation would let commercial property owners in the area vote themselves an extra property tax for security, street and landscaping upgrades, as well as public transit. It wouldn’t affect residential property taxes. The district would need approval of a majority of commercial property owners, plus owners of 75 percent of the area’s property value.

The request came from Hull Storey Gibson, owners of the Macon Mall. The firm is working on a redevelopment plan for the whole stretch of Eisenhower between interstates 75 and 475.

— Increasing the Bibb County Board of Elections’ annual budget by $102,746 at the request of Election Supervisor Jeanetta Watson. Changes in this year’s election dates will have a drastic effect on her operating costs, she said in a memo to commissioners.

Watson wants to buy two machines to print paper ballots on demand, which would save excess printing costs and paper; increase the training pay for about 260 poll workers from $20 to $50, since they now must take seven hours of training instead of three; and hire three more employees for 30 hours per week.

— Agreeing to formally allow new hires to join the former Bibb County pension plan, the system adopted for use by the new government; and calling for an employee referendum that’s required for Macon-Bibb County workers to stay under the Social Security system.

— Giving Tax Commissioner Thomas Tedders the power to waive late-payment fees on property taxes, an ability previously approved by Bibb County commissioners.

“The only time the Tax Commissioner’s Office waives any late fee is when the late fee was assessed due to some error on our part or that of another agency involved in the taxation process,” Tedders said in a memo.

— Giving Jeremy Bryant permission to do a fireworks show in Arrowhead Park at Lake Tobesofkee, lasting about 10 minutes, on May 24, the Saturday before Memorial Day. Bryant must get various permits and $1 million in liability insurance.

— Raising the pay of jurors by $5 for their first day of service, to match the $25 they receive for subsequent days.

— Studying government procurement practices to see if a “disparity study” is needed on the level of participation small and minority-owned businesses have in the local economy, since Bibb County’s demographics and economy have changed so much since the last study in 1999.

All items approved in committee are expected back for a final vote by the full commission Feb. 18.

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