YORK – The York County Commissioners (as a part of the York County Solid Waste Agency with the City of York) have given their blessing to a $5 million bond issue that will finance a $4 million pod expansion at the landfill and the purchase of a nearly $1 million scraper for use at the landfill.
The matter will come before the York City Council Thursday night for their approval as well.
This landfill expansion is a large investment which will be funded through strictly revenue bonds. The landfill has historically always generated enough revenue to cover its own operations and debt service. While the county and city are legally responsible to use tax dollar revenues to cover any shortfalls in paying off this debt, Scott Keene (bonding agent with Pieper/Sadler) said that has never been necessary in the history of the landfill and likely would never occur.
“The landfill has always generated enough revenue to cover its operations and debt service,” Keene reiterated.
It was noted the landfill is projected to have about $662,000 in excess revenue each year and require about $400,000 to cover the debt service – in other words, more than enough to cover the payments. And those payments will drop after five years, as the scraper machinery portion will be paid off at that point and the other remaining debt for the landfill pods will last for another 10 years.
The bonding is for a 15-year period.
“The timing is good,” Keene told the county board members this week. “The engineers are contemplating maybe some more work will be required in the years of 2028-2029 – but that may or may not happen, they have just talked about it. With your and the council’s approval, we will go to market very soon after the bids are opened, so we will bond exactly what we need.”
Keene also noted that a rate study for the landfill will likely be done in the near future, as the last one was completed in 2017, “but nothing about this financing requires that.”
Commissioner Daniel Grotz, who is a member of the solid waste agency board, said this project will extend the landfill’s life expectancy to 2063. “As we go along, there will be expenses to build out that area, but this is the main expense to get that started.
“We also had questions about the scraper and why such a high price,” Grotz continued. “We asked if anyone looked at buying used in order to get a cheaper price. We spoke with the city’s public works director, as $939,000 is a big chunk to swallow. But the current one is from 1992 and has 8,300 hours on it. It needs repairs and they thought now would be a good time to update that scraper. It will also be able to be used to build the new roads around this landfill pod. The life expectancy of the scraper would be through the life of this landfill expansion. When the city public works looked at this, they decided this is what makes more sense and this was the way to go. The city council also approved this purchase in their budget, we are just approving the financing.”
“As far as the rate study, yes, you are correct, that study has nothing to do with this project,” said Commissioner Kurt Bulgrin, who also sits on the solid waste agency board. “It was just thought that the users might take more kindly to smaller increments of increases – and maybe the study will find that rate increases aren’t necessary at all.”
“Is there any federal infrastructure money available for a project like this?” asked Commissioner Jack Sikes.
No, Keene said, as those federal dollars will only apply to infrastructure projects involving roads, bridges, internet, water, sewer and airports.
“We are statutorily required to be part of something like this and it appears the partnership with the city has been good,” said Commissioner Randy Obermier. “This will also get us another 40 years from our landfill.”
The agreement from the commissioners was done in the form of a resolution that amends the agreement for the agency and authorizes the bonds.
As far as a timeline, Keene said the matter will go to the council the evening of Nov. 18 – if approved, bids will be opened on Dec. 6, the agency board will meet on Dec. 9 and they will likely go to market shortly after that with the bonds.
“The goal is to go to market as quickly as possible,” Keene said, “in order to capture favorable interest rates which are low right now.”