• Arne Mortensen

About the Headquarters Landfill

Yesterday, Tuesday 6 June, the County Commissioners arranged to present at a morning and an evening session financial details of the Headquarters Landfill (HL). This was an early view of a process which might result in some change of status at the HL. The sessions were modestly attended, but I expect subsequent meetings will get far more attendance.

There is one salient question to consider regarding the HL. Can more be extracted from the HL to the benefit of the owners, you the Cowlitz County taxpayers? That question cannot be answered in the absence of further data, so the exhortation by some citizens to shut down any exploration is counterproductive to the welfare of the county. The time to reject an action is when there are proposals to evaluate, and there are none … yet.

I believe the commissioners are united in protecting the interests of the county, and they will do so under advisement by the public, counsel, and their own knowledge of the issues.

The comments yesterday were uniformly against the sale of the HL, but the presentation by the county did not mention sale. There are other mechanisms by which a change in status can be achieved while preserving control/autonomy over the HL. The devil will be in the detail of whatever offers are received, and these details will be governed by tight contract language should one of the offers be selected.

The citizens will get to see these offers before decisions are made, but in the interim some amount of privacy is required, as is typical in such situations. Sharing the information of respondents can influence the process negatively for all concerned.

Here are a few thoughts that seem evident to me:

· The value of HL greatly increased when the county took care of the permits required. Doing that removed uncertainty, and in business, uncertainty is a concern.

· Because uncertainty is a concern for any business, the County has concerns over the HL. Others may be in a better position to mitigate uncertainties.

· Unquestionably, any deal will have to maintain the current expectation of the citizens for service and cost.

· Waste handling companies look at HL as a great asset because they, I surmise, plan to increase the dumping rate. They and we make money only when there is waste to dump. The downside is that the traffic at the dump will increase.

Here is a list of issues/concerns collected from various sources:

· Keep the citizens at the promised commitment for level of service and cost

· Liability of future closure responsibility

· Control over the environmental issues at the dump

· The future of current employees at the HL

· Get a revenue stream for the county

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