Well, it was fun while it lasted.
And it seems Columbia County will be stuck with a closed landfill after all.
Just a couple of months ago, Environmental Liability Transfer, a St. Louis, Mo., development company, made overtures to the Columbia County government about taking over the closed Baker Place Road landfill.
The prospect had tremendous promise. After all, unloading the landfill would be a huge bonus for taxpayers. Not only would they no longer have the estimated $10 million cost of closing and monitoring the site to make sure it meets state environmental requirements, but putting the 215 acre property in private hands would also put it back on the tax rolls.
Not ones to take the first deal that comes along, county commissioners quite rightly advertised for proposals from other development companies to see if there were better offers. In the end, only Environmental Liability Transfer came to the table - and their offer turned out to be a quest for a free lunch.
"It was one of those deals that was too good to be true, and it was," says Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross.
County officials have now found that Environmental Liability Transfer didn't plan to actually pay for the property. What they wanted was for the county to pay them the $10 million budget they had set aside for closing and monitoring the landfill property, and ELT would then oversee the site's closing and develop the adjacent land.
Boy, THAT would have been a sweet deal - for them. For Columbia County taxpayers? Not so much.
Still, the concept of turning over the excess landfill property (the landfill takes up just 76 of the site's 215 acres) for private development is a great idea. Taxpayers would no longer be saddled with the maintenance costs of owning that vacant land, and would benefit from having a private owner paying taxes on the property.
While this free lunch really did turn out too good to be true, that doesn't mean a more reasonable deal isn't out there - and this disappointment shouldn't stop county officials from looking for it.
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