The Mahoning County health board may have to cut back landfill inspections and testing water wells close to landfills because of revenue losses incurred with an unexpected landfill closing.
The board’s landfill, water-well testing and other programs are funded through the county Solid Waste Management District, known as the Green Team, which gets the majority of its revenue from per-ton dumping fees paid by the landfills.
Central Waste Landfill in Smith Township, which generated about $650,000 a year in dumping fees, closed in 2012, said Patricia Sweeney, county health commissioner.
The county now has only two active landfills — Carbon Limestone in Poland Township and the Mahoning Landfill in Springfield Township. The county health department inspects active and retired landfills.
Total SWMD revenue was $2.6 million in 2012 and is projected to be $2.4 million this year and $2.4 million next year.
The recycling division is spending more money than it is receiving, causing reserves to dwindle to the point where its carry-over from 2013 to 2014 is expected to be $200,000 or less, said Lou Vega, SWMD director.
Vega has taken a number of cost-cutting steps, including reducing tire collections from 11 to three annually to save $3,500 and cutting electronics collections from 10 to six annually to save $6,000.
Other recommendations include cutting the division’s allocation to the county engineer for landfill haul-road maintenance from $45,000 this year to zero next year; discontinuing a business-recycling contract with Allied Waste; and leaving the assistant director’s position vacant for a $50,000 annual saving.
But it is not enough to offset the loss of the Central Waste revenue, forcing a harder look at the 2014 budget and allocations, Vega reported to the SWMD Policy Committee earlier this month, Sweeney said.
“We are allocated $290,000 for 2014 to conduct an approved solid-waste program. Any reduction ... would dramatically alter what we do in terms of frequency of landfill inspections and well-water testing,” she said. “Also, we would have to reopen an agreement with Carbon Limestone about frequency of inspections.”
Policy-committee meetings are expected in the near future to discuss the financial shortfall and what to do about it, Sweeney said.
“I thing Lou [Vega] is doing an exceptional job of being transparent and keeping the policy board informed. It is no one’s fault. Some issues, like the closing of Central Waste, are unforeseeable,” she told her board.
Sweeney said, however, the health department’s programs are allowable SWMD expenses, and the board’s District Advisory Council believes the programs should be maintained at their current levels.