NOTE – This is the sixth part of a series published exclusively in the Jackson Parish Journal regarding the upcoming sales tax election. Over the next several weeks we will look at among other things: what a sales tax represents, how the tax is derived, why parish officials feel that an increase is needed, where the additional funds will be applied and when the new tax rate, if approved, will take effect. Today – Landfill operations at the Jackson Parish Solid Waste Department.
A major function that the Jackson Parish Solid Waste Department provides is the operation of the landfill that is located just off the Beech Springs Highway (Hwy 542) at 302 Landfill Road in between Jonesboro and Quitman. It is important to know just what a landfill is, how different types of materials are handled and the costs involved in it’s operation.
What is a landfill? Webster’s dictionary defines a landfill as a place to dispose of refuse and other waste material by burying it and covering it over with soil, especially as a method of filling in or extending usable land. Yet there is more to it than this general description. The way it is described above is really nothing more than a dump. There is two major distinctions between a dump and a landfill. First, a dump is an excavated piece of land used as storage for waste materials while a landfill is also an excavated piece of land for waste storage but it is regulated by the government. Secondly, a landfill has a liner at the bottom to catch the liquid produced by solid waste while a dump does not have a liner.
The landfill area used by the Jackson Parish Police Jury is roughly a forty acre plot where many types of materials and items are brought for disposal. Currently residents, commercial businesses and local townships of Jackson Parish are in a very unique and enjoyable position of not being charged a fee to have their refuse and solid waste handled by the Solid Waste Department. This is not the case in neighboring parishes where various charges are applied. Costs are dependent on the composition of the waste is made. Currently, no matter what type of material it is, the Jackson Parish Police Jury absorbs all costs for not only disposal of the items but also when required the money paid to other entities to handle what can’t be kept in the local landfill.
It may surprise you but not everything that is brought goes into the landfill. Actually only certain items are allowed to be disposed of there. Many items that are brought to the landfill by residents, commercial businesses and local communities and townships are taken to other sites to be disposed of. As an example, all household waste is transported to the Union Parish landfill. This is a requirement because the Jackson Parish landfill does not meet the requirements set for by the state to handle this type of waste. Is it a costly proposition? Absolutely! What is worse is the costs continue to rise.
Per Solid Waste Department supervisor, Robin Sessions, in 2005 the cost to have the Union Parish landfill process our household garbage was $16.00 per ton. Currently the JPPJ is being charged $27.00 per ton which is a 168% increase. Metals, white goods, batteries and oil are all also taken other places to be disposed off. The JPPJ also pays 100% of the cost to have used tires removed and taken to a different location.
Wood waste that comes to the landfill is ground up on site and hauled to the Hodge papermill to be used for boiler fuel. One would think that would be a good revenue stream, right? Maybe in days of yore but at present the income received from the paper mill just barely covers the cost to prepare the wood so it can be used. In summary, no matter what kind of refuse is being handled by the Solid Waste Department it is a very costly proposition. New week we will look at “hard dollar” figures of revenue received and the expenses of operation.