PARKERSBURG - Following a week of speculation, a Wood County official has spoken up as to why the Wood County Board of Education's choice of Waste Management for the school district's trash removal services is a positive step for the area.
During the Aug. 27 regular meeting, the Wood County Board of Education approved Waste Management over Kimble Recycling and Disposal, represented at the meeting by Andrew Kimble, in a three-to-two vote following nearly a half hour of discussions.
"There are several reasons Waste Management is the right choice for the service, but no one mentioned them during the board meeting," said John Reed, director of the Wood County Solid Waste Authority. "The SWA took the position to keep trash service local because it is a better deal for the county and schools."
In June, Reed sent a letter to the school district that outlined why the in-state Waste Management is the better of the two options, above the Ohio-based Kimble Recycling and Disposal. The controversy brewed because the bid from Waste Management was at a higher cost than that of Kimble.
While the bid from Kimble Recycling and Disposal was $1,780.72 less than the bid from Waste Management, which came in at $183,441.83, having chosen the Dover, Ohio-based Kimble, Wood County and the school district would have lost far more than the savings, according to Reed.
As part of the letter, Reed stated the Wood County Solid Waste Authority board of directors unanimously passed a resolution asking the school board to give "preference... to local West Virginia licensed haulers."
Waste Management is headquartered in Houston, Texas, but is licensed in West Virginia as a hauler.
"There are a number of reasons for choosing a local company over an outside company," Reed said. "It is not all black and white, and down to the base numbers. There are a lot of different aspects the board needed to look at in making this decision."
Reed said the first reason he supported choosing Waste Management was that, as a licensed hauler in the state, it is required to follow all rules set forth by the West Virginia Public Service Commission to ensure a high quality of service, while out-of-state haulers, such as Kimble, do not have to follow state standards or rules.
The second reason is, waste disposed of in landfills licensed in the state of West Virginia - including the Wood County Landfill - is assessed a fee of one dollar per ton, which is distributed to the county in two methods: the Wood County SWA receives 50 cents per ton while the state receives the other 50 cents per ton, which is divided evenly among the 55 counties annually, he said.
This money is the primary source of revenue for the authority; the only other funds are $50 for each littering citation, Reed said.
These funds also go toward education programs to teach about recycling in schools and community organizations, along with the purchase of receptacles for parks and public spaces.
"The authority has recently allocated several thousand dollars back into area middle schools for containers and education, because we have learned middle school age is the perfect age to reach people about the importance of recycling and trash removal," Reed said.
Currently, $5,331 was earmarked for VanDevender and Edison middle schools for trash and recycling containers as well as patio benches made of recycled plastics.
"The Wood County Solid Waste Authority also contributed more than $2,500 each year - over the past three years - to the Board of Education Students at Risk Program," Reed said. "Out-of-state haulers who take their waste across state lines are not subject to this assessment, therefore not only does Wood County, but also the schools lose a lot."
Reed said all West Virginia-licensed haulers, Waste Management included, pay property tax on their real estate and equipment out-of-state companies do not pay.
"Seventy percent of the property tax goes directly to the school district, so by choosing a hauler not based in West Virginia, the school board was shooting themselves," Reed said.