Public Works-Solid Waste
Dan Cherry, Director
1100 Commerce Drive, Prescott, AZ 86305
The goal of the Solid Waste Division is to provide a necessary service to the residents of Yavapai County
and aid public health and safety by ensuring that refuse materials are properly collected and disposed.
The operation and maintenance of eight transfer stations and two waste tire collection sites located within the County are the primary focus of the Solid Waste Division. It is estimated that these sites will collect approximately 6,600 tons of refuse materials in FY 2021-22 and has the current budget year funding for Solid Waste heavily strained. The population of Yavapai County is steadily increasing. The economy remains strong. Costs for goods and services continually rise. These factors result in an increased use of Solid Waste facilities and programs, and an always increasing cost to run those facilities and programs. Under current budget constraints provided, it is quite possible that our FY 21-22 budget will fall short of what will be needed to fulfill our requested obligations to the residents of Yavapai County. This increased use by residents has been centered on three of our transfer stations; Paulden, Black Canyon City, and Seligman. Our Paulden Transfer Station has been particularly hard hit with a 330% increase in material tonnage and a 538% increase in vehicle traffic over the last eight years, another attendant is desperately needed there. An expansion of hours for Black Canyon City and Seligman will help with the increased use at those stations.
The Solid Waste Division works towards accomplishing its goal by holding occasional special events such as community cleanups, household hazardous waste disposal, and the free slash program. Last year (FY20-21) 1,702.04 tons of waste material were processed at the community cleanups. This fiscal year, the Solid Waste Division has scheduled 43 community clean-up days countywide and participates in several other days with incorporated communities such as the Town of Prescott Valley and the City of Cottonwood. Traditionally, the schedule is amended by Board action from time to time to more effectively accommodate community cleanups. Community cleanups are held primarily near the weekend to encourage resident participation and require significant participation by HURF personnel as the Solid Waste Division does not have sufficient personnel to operate these events internally.
Additionally, the trash patrol and adopt-a-road program is responsible for refuse removal on over 1,500 miles of County maintained right of way. Solid Waste continues to add roads to the adopt-a-road program as County residents show interest.
Cleanup funds also support local community groups such as local fire departments, litter lifters, and many others that are invaluable in helping to reduce potential wildfire fuels, keep communities clean, and limit excess material buildup.
On occasion, Yavapai County partners in household hazardous waste (HHW) collection events held in conjunction with the City of Sedona and the City of Cottonwood. Yavapai County partnered with Sedona this past fall of 2021 for a successful HHW event.
The free slash program has been established to assist Yavapai County residents in developing defensible space on their properties and around their homes by providing no cost disposal of fire fuels. This program brought in a total of 3,380 loads of slash in FY 20-21. This program continues to increase in popularity as neighborhoods and communities push FireWise and the creation of defensible space around homes. Annual, high-profile wildfire emergencies such as the Goodwin Fire of 2017 continue to spotlight the dangers of fire and excess brush on private, residential property. We do not anticipate a decrease in this use and need for the community, and fully expect that excess slash piles at the County transfer stations may continue to grow without a more dedicated effort to attempt to reduce the slash to chips that may be used as free mulch, or more easily transported for other secondary uses. Our general slash program received a big boost this year with the addition of a new, larger grinder. Now that we have a better grasp on costs for the grinder an increase in our slash line item will be needed.
As in past years, we continue to monitor methane gas output readings at the closed Prescott Valley and Camp Verde Landfills. At the Prescott Valley Landfill, we continue to see an overall long-term trend of decreased readings during our monitoring and testing, however, if we begin to have high levels of methane gas readings, we may be required by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to place a passive gas removal system at the landfill. Currently, we are simply monitoring and completing occasional maintenance, on an as-needed basis.
Program Changes for FY 22-23:
The Solid Waste Division is requesting six (6) program changes for FY 22-23.
First is a proposed improvement to the Congress Transfer Station facility. The existing compactor control shed at this location is very poor and so we have reached out to the Facilities Department and they have drafted up a one-time cost estimate for replacement of the existing control shed at $11,500.00. Replacing the shed will make the area safer for both employees and the public that utilize the transfer station. This Exhibit 3 will be included in those presented by the Facilities Department, as well.
Secondly, the Seligman Transfer Station is proposed to have a second compactor installed at it which will be dedicated for recyclable materials. The second compactor was recently acquired at a very low price with the closure of the Prescott Sears store at Gateway Mall. Solid Waste proposes to place this at the Seligman Transfer Station where it will accept recyclables and better control the waste that currently gets blown out of the existing bin due to regular windy conditions at this location. This requires a new concrete pad to be installed by Facilities, which has an estimated one-time cost of $12,540.00. This Exhibit 3 will be included in those presented by the Facilities Department, as well.
The third request is to consider increasing the operational weekly hours for the Seligman Transfer Station. This location is currently open 3 days per week (Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday). With a 117% increase in tonnage and a 66% increase in vehicular traffic over the past six years, we are recommending that the facility be open a fourth day each week, in this case adding Tuesday to the regular operational days. We have proposed this change to include expanded hours for the existing Solid Waste Tech I position that fills the transfer station attendant role, as well as proposing a modest increase in the Hauling and Disposal line items for this particular facility. This all equates to an increase in $29,744.00 annually for the line items specific to this facility, as outlined in the submitted Exhibit 3.
The fourth request is a similar action to the third, but this is for the Black Canyon City Transfer Station. It too is currently open only 3 days per week, (Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday). With a 258% increase in tonnage and a 111% increase in vehicular traffic over the past nine years, we are recommending that the facility be open a fourth day each week, also proposing to add Tuesday to the regular operational days. We have proposed this change to include expanded hours for the existing Solid Waste Tech I position that fills the transfer station attendant role, as well as proposing a modest increase in the Hauling and Disposal line items for this particular facility. This all equates to an increase in $26,744.00 annually for the line items specific to this facility, as outlined in the submitted Exhibit 3.
While all of the County transfer stations are experiencing volume increases, none are more than the facility in Paulden. The Board approved the acquisition of over 3 acres of additional land on the north side of the Paulden Transfer Station in FY 21-22, which has been completed, adding some valuable room to this facility and allowing us to spread out and more safely operate the large scale annual clean up events. Since opening 8 years ago, the Paulden Transfer Station has experienced a 330% increase in tonnage accepted and a 538% increase in vehicular traffic. A chart is included with this budget proposal, showing the dramatic increase in use that this facility has experienced over time. The fifth requested Exhibit 3 proposes one additional staff person to help operate the Paulden Transfer station, which would bring the total staff on site to 3 during normal operating hours. We are proposing 1 additional Solid Waste Tech I position, and also adding some increased office space which includes a small standalone building with slab and electrical service to the building. We have worked with the Facilities Department to estimate a cost for the capital improvements at the site. With three people on site, the public can be dealt with in a more safe and efficient manner. At this time, with only two attendants present, there are many times the public is dumping materials unsupervised, which often results in materials being place in the wrong locations, or unsafe behavior. A third employee present on-site will greatly increase the safety of the site for the public, the equipment, and the County staff. Between the capital improvements and the additional staff member, the total cost is estimated to be $89,410.00, of which $43,700 is a one-time capital cost and $45,710 is an ongoing employee related expenditure.
The sixth and final Exhibit 3 for Solid Waste is intended to address the increasing costs associated with operating the solid waste and slash programs. As the Board is aware, all operating costs have risen over the past year. We have bid out haul and disposal contracts which have seen dramatic unit cost increases just to get rid of the material we accept at the transfer stations. Revenues are up with the increased usage, but Yavapai County still subsidizes these services, and as our expenditures continue to rise we feel it is appropriate that the Board of Supervisors consider increasing the line items associated with the normal operation of the remote transfer stations spread throughout the County. With that in mind, we have proposed an Exhibit 3 which targets specific line items in the budget that we are forecasting shortfalls in during FY 22-23 should they remain static. These line items are primarily haul and disposal for particular transfer stations, some higher than others due to popularity by the public. We are also proposing a substantial increase in the Slash line item due to increased costs to deal with the operation and maintenance of 2 green waste grinders as opposed to just 1 in past years. The green waste program continues to be an extremely popular offering by the County to the residents of Yavapai County in order to create a safer, fire-wise space around homes. Lastly, the Skull Valley lease amount with ASLD increased this past fall and we are raising the line item to address that increase. The Exhibit 3 details which line items need to be most addressed, but the total amount requested is a $223,000.00 increase annually. We are predicting substantial increases in costs to certain areas, and this should safeguard the Board from surprises during the FY22-23 budget year.