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Commissioner seeks solution to landfill losses
Lutz wants to hear vendors' opinions on how to shore up account
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As the Hall County Board of Commissioners begins to make tough budget choices, Commissioner Craig Lutz wants to find a solution for the county’s landfill fund, which he says is unprofitable.

At Monday’s work session, he asked the board to send out a request for information to vendors to hear their recommendations.

“I’ve outlined my concerns that I have, particularly with the landfill, where we’re losing over $1 million,” Lutz said. “We should find ways to potentially turn that into a revenue source.”

Under the request, vendors could submit proposals that describe how the county should move forward with the compactor and recycling sites, whether through privatization or a cooperative share of operations, Lutz said.

“This would ask a set of vendors for the way they would propose to run it,” he said. “Then we have policy issues to determine beyond that. An RFI (request for information) is not obligating us from any policy standpoint.”

Chairman Tom Oliver asked to postpone the discussion until Thursday’s commission meeting.

“I have no intention or desire to sell or lease the landfill. A Realtor recently mentioned that Atlanta is looking for space and wants to know if we’d be interested,” he said. “I said, ‘No.’ We would become the new landfill for the city of Atlanta, and I have no desire for that.”

Commissioner Ashley Bell also asked to hold the discussion until Randy Knighton, Hall County’s planning director, gives a presentation about possible privatization ideas at an upcoming meeting.

“Staff members are meeting this week to talk about that matter, and I would probably be more in favor of that conversation once we get staff opinion,” Bell said. “We pay these folks good money, so we should listen to what they have to say.”

Based on declining tax digest values and increases in retirement and health care costs, the overall county budget is already looking to have an $8.8 million gap for fiscal year 2012, which begins July 1. The county’s fiscal 2011 budget was $90.4 million, and staff are trying to maintain similar levels.

More than 70 Hall County departments and agencies presented their budgets in early April. Hall County’s finance department is now using the hearings and additional meetings to create a final draft of the budget, which will be available to the public by June.

Finance officials also will hold two or three public hearings before commissioners vote on the budget in June.

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