BROOKSVILLE — The mail carrier brought good news to county Utilities Director Joe Stapf on Wednesday and to all those who pay to use Hernando County's landfill.
The state permit to open a new cell at the landfill was delivered, prompting meetings throughout the day to talk about how to "as expeditiously as possible'' get the project under way, Stapf said.
Work on the new cell began earlier this week in anticipation of receiving the permit, which allows construction of a special lining and other landfill cell features once the huge hole is dug.
The clock is ticking on the current active cell of the landfill and every bag of garbage is inching Hernando closer to having to start shipping trash out of county, at a hefty cost to the county and the customers.
"This is a significant milestone,'' Stapf said. "Now we can begin in earnest our next steps.''
The permit was delayed because the state was concerned about the potential for sinkholes on the property. The delay led county officials to worry that they would have to spend significant amounts of money to ship trash possibly to the Pasco County incinerator or elsewhere to keep from running out of landfill space before the new cell could be constructed.
Such steps could have meant a hefty increase to property owners in their annual landfill assessment.
Stapf is still talking with other officials and haulers about options for moving some trash elsewhere to buy time to complete the cell construction and to get a state operating permit, which he expects sometime in 2010.
The plan is to keep the existing cell open by moving garbage elsewhere for a time. Closing a cell is expensive and complicated and Stapf doesn't want to have to do that.
His plan is to bring whatever options are available to the County Commission on April 28.
The key, he said, was finally knowing that the permit was in hand. "The target has been moving too fast for us to take aim but now it's steady,'' he said.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.