Hall County leaders are courting local cities, hoping their overtures will bring municipal trash back to the county's landfill.
Last month, the Hall County Board of Commissioners gave Public Works Director Ken Rearden the authority to negotiate prices with the local municipalities on fees to dump city trash at the county landfill with the hope that they could lure the steady business of trash-collecting municipalities, which would in turn bring in steady revenue for a county government that seems to ceaselessly search for ways to make its departments less reliant on tax dollars.
Gainesville and Oakwood, which started leaving its residents' trash at a private transfer station once rates at the county landfill rose to $40 per ton, aren't giving in too easily.
City managers in both cities tell The Times that it may take more than a lower price to bring their business back to the county.
And Clermont Mayor James Nix says it will take some convincing for city officials there to haul their trash, which normally travels only a few miles to a White County landfill, all the way to the Candler Road facility.
"It's doubtful it would be anything that would benefit us," Nix said.
Both Oakwood and Gainesville's governing boards decided to take their trash to a transfer station owned by Advanced Disposal near the airport when the county raised the price to dump at the Candler Road landfill.
And now, they act pretty comfortable with the arrangement.
Oakwood City Manager Stan Brown said though the initial move was made on cost, the city has come to appreciate the convencience of the transfer station.
Since the city moved its business to the transfer station, costs have increased, making Oakwood officials more amenable to a negotiation with the county, he said.
When Oakwood originally moved its business to the transfer station, it was paying about $36 for each ton of trash it left, said Jason Spencer, the city's public works supervisor.
Now, the city pays about $39.50 for each ton, Spencer said — only $0.50 less than the price that caused the cities to end business with the landfill.
The county, as a bargaining tool, is now offering a price of $35.50 per ton.
"It's not just the rate we've got to look at," Brown said. "What we're talking with the county about is trying to provide a comparable service at a comparable price."
Even with the higher price, the transfer station is convenient to both Oakwood and Gainesville. And city public works officials don't have to worry about pulling their garbage trucks through mud on rainy days at the landfill.
"(The transfer station) is very easily accessible, and we haven't had a tire puncture (on the garbage trucks) like we used to (at the landfill)," Spencer said. "It's the convenience and the cleanliness — that's a big plus for us."
But it doesn't mean neither city can't be persuaded.
Gainesville City Manager Kip Padgett said Gainesville officials are hoping to make a deal with the county that includes a new plan for hauling the city's recycling.
Currently, the city collects residents' recyclables and takes them to Lawrenceville.
"If it's closer, it'd be even more cost effective," said Padgett.
County officials are supposed to meet with Gainesville and Oakwood officials again on Monday for further bargaining.