Valdosta Daily Times

July 26, 2013

City transfers liability

Deeds rest of old dump to Advanced Disposal

Quinten Plummer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The state’s third longest civilian runway was cleared for a backup power source and other improvements, and the City of Valdosta transferred liabilities attached to 17 acres of buried garbage in a tract next to the city’s old landfill during Thursday evening’s regular session of the Valdosta City Council.

The 17-acre tract was bought to offload management of groundwater and methane from a neighboring 74-acre parcel, where the city’s landfill once sat, according to City Manager Larry Hanson. The complementary strip of land containing waste wells and buried garbage was omitted when the city out-sourced landfill operations, stated Hanson.

“When this transaction took place some years ago and Violia (now Advanced Disposal Services) was acquiring the city’s landfill, the assumption was made by their attorney that it was all one tract of land,” said Hanson. “So he just picked up  the 74 acre tract in the deed’s legal description without realizing that there was a small, 17 acre sliver that ran along side of it.”

The omission was unearthed back in February of 2010 when Advanced Disposal Services agreed to acquire the 74 acre landfill, which had been leased back to the city until permits could be obtained and other terms fulfilled by the disposal company, according to Hanson.

The disposal company agreed to take on the lot, while it reconfigured the Violia Evergreen Landfill, in a project development agreement with the City of Valdosta and the Deep South Regional Municipal Solid Waste Management Authority back in November of 2010. The city’s interest in ditching the 17 acre tract, however, comes down to ridding itself of an environmental liability, stated Hanson.

“We have to monitor the methane and the groundwater levels, and we have to have quarterly tests,” said Hanson. “If there are hits, we have to burn or flare

off that methane. So that’s a cost to the city and it’s an ongoing liability. Under Georgia law, we have to do all of that for 30 years after closure. So when they came forward and asked if we were willing to give them the land, we said yes, because it relieves us of a significant financial liability.”

Before resolving the 17 acres worth of financial liability on Wetherington Lane, council members unanimously voted in a resolution to help the Valdosta-Lowndes County Airport Authority diminish its own liabilities. The council authorized the airport authority to accept an agreement with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), for up to $500,000 in grant money, which could set the roll-out of backup power for runway and tower lights as early as October of this year.

Work on an expanded runway would likely start in 2014, with passenger boarding bridges and runway tests possible in the following years, according to Airport Director Jim Galloway. Airport official have been unsure just how much weight the state’s third longest airstrip is capable of bearing, stated Galloway who said that the strip has only been confirmed to support up to 98,000 tons so far.

The FAA will grant 90 percent of the project’s fund, the state will chip in 2.5 percent and the remaining 7.5 percent falls into the city’s court. The airport will cover the city’s portion of the grant, according to Galloway.

“When passengers fly out of Valdosta, there is a $4.50 charge as part of their ticket price that has been processed through the airline. The airline, I believe, gets 15 cents for processing and the airport gets $4.15 and it goes into a highly regulated account called the Passenger Facility Charge account. That builds over time as these projects go along and that’s how they fund the 7.5 percent.”