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Quartzsite, Arizona

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

La Paz County Supervisors solicit proposals for county landfill


Supervisors Seek to Leverage Landfill’s Capacity and 
Rail Access for Host Fees

PARKER, Arizona — September 5, 2012 — La Paz County Supervisors announced that they plan to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) this week seeking qualified companies interested in operating and utilizing the capacity at the County’s landfill in return for providing host fees, jobs and economic development opportunities. La Paz County Supervisor Holly Irwin said they are seeking proposals from “Financially capable waste operators that will recognize the unique economic advantages of the site and align interests in a public-private partnership to maximize revenues to both parties from its operations.”

County Supervisors retained waste management experts eight months ago to analyze the current operating contract with Allied and to prepare for a RFP process to test the market for operators interested in the landfill’s disposal capacity currently estimated at over twenty four million cubic yards.  The RFP specifically asks qualified operators to provide their experience related to transporting waste by rail to take advantage of the landfill’s close proximity to RailAmerica’s short line that provides access to The BNSF Railway, who operates more than 1,000 trains a day in North America with 32,000 route miles in the western two-thirds of the United States.

By industry standards, the County landfill is considered a major asset due to its long-term ability to provide disposal capacity and its topographic characteristics of operating in an isolated, dry desert environment.   Once a new operator is selected by late fall of 2012, the County will be soliciting additional proposals from complementary industries that may be able to co-locate at the landfill to increase host fees from other operations.  “The Landfill represents an economic engine that could potentially bring more host fees, more jobs and spin off industrial opportunities,” Supervisor Irwin continued. 

Irwin further stated that, “Our County has a very small property tax base with only 5% of privately owned land.  The Board of Supervisors needs to relieve our taxpayers of their burden by developing outside revenue streams.  In addition, landfill revenues will aid in the early payoff of bond monies borrowed to pay a multi-million dollar court judgment awarded Yakima Composting against the County.” 

The judgment arose out of a 2003 contract claim made by Yakima, a bio-solids processor, for breach of contract against La Paz County.  In September, 2007 a jury awarded over $10 Million in damages including attorneys’ fees, costs, and statutory 10% interest.  The County appealed.  In June 2010 the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s judgment.  On November 30, 2010 the Arizona Supreme Court denied review of the case and the Judgment became final.  The County could not pay the judgment.  The County alternatives to pay were limited to being ordered by the Court to pass a property tax on the 5% of private land or to seek assistance from the Arizona State Legislature in being able to bond for the Judgment and pay with a sales tax where all parties in La Paz County pay.   The Legislature passed the statute and it was signed by the Governor in April, 2011 to be effective on July 20, 2011.  In September, 2011, Yakima was fully paid.

The County and its consultants regularly meet with RailAmerica and BNSF to collaborate on infrastructure improvements that could exponentially increase the use of transporting waste by rail to the landfill with plans to target other industries who may be interested in using rail for other operations.

The current contract between Allied Waste and La Paz County is scheduled to expire in November of 2013 and the selected operator will be required to negotiate a new contract this fall with the intent to assume responsibilities for the landfill, recycling programs and transfer stations in December of 2013.  The long lead time is necessary to provide for a smooth transition if a new operator is selected to allow for time to design, permit and construct new disposal capacity.

County Supervisors have retained Mintz Levin, Strategic Management and Michael Brown Consulting Engineers to assist them with the proposal and contracting process, which will require proposers to provide detailed information including waste marketing plans, waste commitments to the site, landfill development, operations and closure methods, and history of working with governmental entities.  The operator will be expected to provide transfer and disposal for a small volume of residential trash delivered to transfer facilities throughout the County, as well as to provide recycling services and capacity for local industries and private haulers.


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