By Bonnie Culverhouse
Today, Sept. 10, the Webster Parish Police Jury officially decided to get out of the landfill business.
Republic Services, under the subsidiary name of Webster Parish Landfill and the company that currently holds the landfill operating contract, won the right to call the landfill their own with a bid of $20M. Madden Contracting of Minden was the only other bidder at $6.2M. The bid threshold was $10M.
“I believe we are obligated to the citizens of Webster Parish to accept the $20 million bid,” said Dist. 4 juror Randy Thomas, who is also head of the Environmental Committee. “It was way above what I was thinking it would be.”
WPPJ president Jim Bonsall said the landfill makes very little money – if any – for the parish.
“Even if the landfill made us $200,000 a year, it would take us 100 years to make $20 million,” Bonsall said. “There’s a lot of things we can do with this money.”
Parish attorney Patrick Jackson said money from the sale will be available for projects in Webster Parish at the jury’s direction.
“From my perspective, the jurors are the policy makers,” Jackson said. “It’s your decision whether to accept the bid, then with regard to the funds, you have the ability to restrict them, to dedicate them, split them up. It’s obvious there are pressing needs in many areas.”
According to the bid contract, mineral rights on the property were reserved, along with a no-drill clause. The jury will still maintain all roads leading into landfill property.
Jackson said before the sale is finalized, “There are some logistics – we have to come to some terms, and that’s why the bids were required to be held for a period of time. Assuming we can come to terms on the environmental liability, the insurance, financial security, the sale will take place immediately. However, the landfill is still under lease and would operate under those terms until it expires, unless the operator (Republic Services) determines otherwise.”
That operational lease is set to expire in August 2022.
Several jurors said they were disappointed because they could not go with the local bidder.
“We all hate this predicament we are in,” Nick Cox, Dist. 8, said to John Madden of Madden Contracting. “The $20 million for the landfill was such a good offer. We really want to help our local businesses – I think this whole jury does – but it’s very important to me, personally, that I feel I’m doing the best thing for Webster Parish as a whole.”
The vote was 11 in favor with 1 abstention from Dist. 3 juror Daniel Thomas.
“I abstained because of my history working with waste as a whole,” said Thomas, who retired from landfill construction after more than 25 years. “I have done business with Republic in the past, and also with several of the people that might’ve bid. I didn’t want anyone to say that I was biased one way or the other with my vote.”