Government

Marion could get $25 million in proposed landfill expansion

Proposal on the table but likely to go to committee

Trucks unload at the landfill at the Solid Waste Agency in Marion on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Trucks unload at the landfill at the Solid Waste Agency in Marion on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

MARION — If the Marion City Council agrees to let the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency expand the landfill to a sixth cell, the agency would pay the city a host fee that could total $25 million over the next 50 years.

The solid waste agency’s board of directors is scheduled to discuss the proposal at its meeting today.

But Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson, chairman of the solid waste agency’s board and a Marion resident, said he is planning on tabling the proposal, at the request of other board members.

Instead, Oleson said he intends to form a four-member subcommittee to review the proposal that could be brought back to the board before Christmas.

Oleson said the subcommittee may include himself; Cedar Rapids City Council member Scott Olson; Steve Hershner, utilities director for the city of Cedar Rapids; and Terry Chew, who represents the city of Marion.

Karmin McShane, the solid waste agency’s executive director, also would be on the subcommittee, Oleson said.

Oleson said his goal is to present the proposal to the Marion City Council before the new year.

The proposal would amend the agency’s 2006 agreement with the city of Marion, proposing to pay the city a host fee of $2.50 per ton. That could generate half a million dollars a year over the next 50 years, or until the landfill is at capacity.

The landfill currently receives 200,000 tons of garbage a year.

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The agreement between the city and the waste agency reopened the Marion landfill after Mount Trashmore was closed in Cedar Rapids in 2006. Under the agreement, the final elevation of the Marion landfill could not exceed 914 feet above sea level and the landfill had to set 1,800 feet from Artesian Road.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources allows landfill setbacks to be within 500 feet from its property boundary.

Excavation for the landfill’s 20-acre fifth cell, which was part of the settlement agreement, will begin in 2020, with construction in 2021. It will allow for approximately another 25 years of landfill operation.

The Solid Waste Agency would like the city of Marion to decrease the setback to allow room for a sixth cell, which would extend the landfill’s life an additional 25 years.

The fifth cell will be constructed differently if a sixth cell is approved. If an agreement can be reached, land for the sixth cell would be prepped while the fifth cell is being built.

A sixth cell would extend the landfill’s life to 2077.

If a sixth cell is not opened, the landfill will close in 2044, and Linn County trash will need to go elsewhere in the county, be exported to other counties or shipped out of state.

The Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency was formed in 1994 in a 28(e) intergovernmental agreement signed between the city of Cedar Rapids, Linn County and founding members of the agency. Marion joined in 1994 as an associate member.

The 28(e) agreement and the settlement agreement, which expires on June 30, 2044, allows for the waste agency to operate the landfill in Marion. When the agreement expires, it will trigger the dissolution of the agency, according to the proposal.

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The landfill first opened in 1972 with a 30-acre cell. The agency’s footprint at the landfill is now about 360 acres.

None of the other eight members of the solid waste agency’s board could be reached for comment.

The solid waste agency’s meeting, open to the public, will begin at 1:30 p.m. today at the Solid Waste Agency Education Center, 1954 County Home Rd., Marion.

Comments: (319) 368-8664; grace.king@thegazette.com Comments: (319) 368-8664; grace.king@thegazette.com

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