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Is public garbage service shutting out competition? North Pointe majority says no

August 24, 2016 GMT

The North Pointe Solid Waste Special Service District will soon have another place to deposit its garbage — as part-owner of a controversial real estate purchase, the Bayview Landfill near Goshen.

“It helps to stabilize the market into the future,” said Rodger Harper, North Pointe district manager.

North Pointe board members were polarized to the extent that one member requested looking at terminating North Pointe SWSSD at its Monday night meeting.

“It could set in motion for Highland to remove itself from the district,” Highland councilman Tim Irwin said at the meeting. “I can’t speak for the council. That’s just what I heard.”

The Highland City Council voted against the project on Aug. 16, according to Mayor Mark Thompson during a phone interview.

The majority of the board members representing cities from Orem northward in Utah County decided to buy into the South Utah Valley Solid Waste Service District facility in Goshen for the sticker price of $5.75 million. North Pointe’s share of the total cost is approximately $1.15 million.

Several solid waste special service districts in Utah are members of an association called Northern Utah Environmental Resource Agency, or NUERA, and within that group, entities can decide to invest taxpayers’ dollars in a portfolio of projects.

Other districts showing interest in the Bayview Landfill project are Wasatch Integrated Waste, Trans-Jordan Cities and Weber County Solid Waste special service districts, although its boards have not met yet to finalize any plans.

The majority of North Pointe board members were positive about the Bayview Landfill project, and said the investment was a good one and secured the landfill for 100 years or more to bury its district waste.

Several representatives from private companies attended the Monday meeting. A few wanted more research done before making the decision.

Intermountain Regional Landfill founder Dale Brown said his company could have saved North Pointe more than $100 million in tipping fees. His landfill is based in Fairfield.

“I think this should be an open bid process all the way through,” Brown said. “It doesn’t smell right, it doesn’t look right.”

According to South Valley Solid Waste District Director Chris Thompson, without bidding the publicly owned landfill creates a monopoly.

Cedar Hills Councilor Rob Crawley did not vote for the project and pointed to a Utah Taxpayers Association study showing solid waste management fees were much lower in Denver where they had privatization.

Utah Taxpayers Association Vice President Billy Hesterman spoke at the meeting encouraging the group to consider privatization and promoting healthy competition. Only a few of the city representatives for the board agreed with his counsel.

“[Utah Taxpayers Association] is backing me and not supporting it because there are established entities who currently handle a lot of waste in this area who would lose business with this purchase,” Crawley said during a phone interview before the meeting.

Crawley had requested a discussion on terminating the North Pointe special service district before the board made the purchase decision.

“Selling North Pointe assets and privatizing could be profitable and could become a less-expensive solid waste service to taxpayers,” Crawley said, adding its value was estimated at $12 million.

“Before we hurry and do this let us look at this alternative first.”

Instead, the line item led to a study request and postponed the discussion.

“It’s always good for us to look at the pros and cons and see how we’ve done,” Orem representative Brenn Bybee said.

After the vote approving the landfill project, a suggestion was made to address at the September board meeting a consideration advertising a request for proposals to privately manage Bayview.