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Kingwood wants to close transfer station part-time to help with expenses

KINGWOOD – Kingwood Council is asking the state to allow it to close the garbage transfer station two days a week to help stem the flow of red ink at the facility.

Recorder Bill Robertson said the city is supplementing the transfer station budget with money collected through the 1% tax.

“That transfer station’s sucking all our money,” Mayor Jean Guillot said. “We need to do something because we’re just hemorrhaging money.”

He said halfway through the current fiscal year, $322,000 of the $351,000 budgeted for landfill fees has been spent.

Part of the problem is repairs needed on the trailers the city uses to haul trash from the station to the landfill in Tucker County. Council has been considering the purchase of a 45-foot utility trailer. Tuesday it delayed that purchase again because of a bigger problem.

The bigger problem is that the rates at the station haven’t been increased for years.

The city has had an application to increase the garbage and transfer station rates before the State Public Service Commission since October. Recently the PSC extended the deadline for it to decide on whether to approve the new rates to Aug. 2.

Some private haulers take trash to Kingwood’s transfer station rather than ship it to the landfill themselves. The taxpayers of Kingwood are basically subsidizing those businesses by making up the deficit at the transfer station, Councilman Mike Lipscomb said.

If workers’ wages and repairs to equipment are eliminated from the equation, “We’re just about breaking even and that’s about it,” City Clerk Michelle Whetsell said.

But chasing away haulers could create a problem, too, Robertson said, because the budget was based on them bringing trash to the transfer station.

“I say reduce the hours and then see what happens with the trailer and reduce the volume and then discuss it again,” Robertson said.

Councilman Dick Shaffer suggested reassessing the closure in 30-60 days.

Council agreed to ask the city attorney to contact the PSC, requesting authorization to close the transfer station two days per week. It shouldn’t be a complicated decision, Lipscomb said.

Kingwood also has its own trash collection for residents of the city. Council agreed to buy a 2021 International packer truck to replace an older garbage truck. The truck will come from Newlons International Sales in Elkins.