MORRISBURG – During the latest committee of the whole meeting Thurs., Jan. 3, South Dundas council reviewed financial policies, processes and statements and gave early indication that movement on the landfill issue is on the horizon.
When the landfill reserve budget number was on the table, auditor Jamie Pollock from CKDM LLP was prompted by Mayor Steven Byvelds to dive further into the issue.
“That’s the one everybody avoids until reality hits the wheels,” said Byvelds.
Pollock ratified what everyone already knew.
“This one to me in the next few years is a very important number for us,” he said, adding that estimated closure costs were approximately $1-million. “I believe there’s going to be an update done through consultants to see how much it’s going to cost to close them or leave one dormant and move a transfer station to another one.”
CAO Shannon Geraghty confirmed the news.
“The plan is in February for WSP, we’re just reviewing all of our documentation right now, is to make a presentation to council on the long-term planning of both landfills and what the financial implications and recommendations are from it. Stay tuned for that in February,” he said.
The relief at having approximately two-thirds of the projected closure and maintenance costs accounted for in reserves evaporated when Pollock elaborated on the long-term financial implications of the landfills.
The million dollar figure is considered a “soft estimate” and the long-term costs beyond 25 years are not accounted for.
Pollock explained the figure was calculated based on the closure and the cost to “maintain them indefinitely for the next 25 years then you discount it back to today’s dollars. We call it a soft estimate, but as the date gets closer and you want to close it that becomes a hard estimate. Is it going to cost that much? With WSP coming in they will give you an accurate number of what that is going to be.”
Geraghty believes the report will provide a clear picture of what is required financially.
“If we know what the target is, then it’s how do we get to that target?” he said.
Byvelds extinguished any inkling that they would sidestep this issue any further. “Most current councils don’t like saving for some other council down the road, it’s rather prudent that we do some of the lifting because this is the generation that is using the landfill. If we don’t have the money then the next generation who has no landfill and aren’t using it are paying,” he said.
Councillor Archie Mellan then asked, “Is that estimate for one or both landfills?”
It created some confusion and an awkward moment or two as Geraghty and Pollock didn’t seem to be on the same page.
With the question not clearly answered, Mellan iterated, “so that’s for both?”
“Well the study, I believe it was done almost 20 years ago and we’ve just been accruing it so much each year. So WSP will be give a more accurate number of what that could be,” revealed Pollock.
Deputy-Mayor Kirsten Gardner asked why no updated study had been done in two decades?
“There has been some numbers by Robinson Consultants that have been thrown out, too. But we’re just trying to get more firm numbers because it’s like a moving target right now,” answered Geraghty.
Byvelds refocused the meeting by pointing out that they have more than $600,000 in reserves for the closure, which was a positive while admitting that councils he was a part of had failed to contribute to the fund.
“On our previous council, we didn’t put any money aside for the first four years for sure. Landfills are there forever, but now things are changing and now you’re paying more attention,” he said, adding that they “have to pay attention to it now.”