The cost of keeping the Anchorage Landfill in operation

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The City of Anchorage will have a new solid waste transfer facility. This comes after the Anchorage Assembly authorized funding on Tuesday to purchase a plot of land adjacent to the Central Transfer Station.

But public testimony on Tuesday showed not everyone is so thrilled about the project, which will cost over $100 million.

"I do have some concern regarding this,” Denali Disposal owner Bernadette Wilson said. “We have had a couple of our customers already inquire, will this lead to a rate increase?"

According to the Department of Solid Waste Services, the Municipality of Anchorage is always working to prolong the life of the Anchorage Landfill, which they say generates over $20 million a year in revenue.

It’s all part of the city’s Integrated Solid Waste Master Plan, which has been in the works since the beginning of this year.

The existing Central Transfer Station was originally built as a shredder plant in the 80’s, and SWS says Anchorage has simply outgrown it.

"So a new transfer station will be able to make loading and off-loading so much more efficient," SWS’ Suzanna Caldwell said.

John Freie uses the station about once a month. He thinks the city’s plan is a good one.

"I think it's gonna’ be a good deal,” Freie said. “We need a bigger facility over here."

The Muni wants to borrow money to buy the property and build the new facility. But to pay back the bonds, user fees will increase starting January 2019; 6.25 percent for disposal companies and five percent for residential and commercial users.

People Channel 2 spoke with at the Central Transfer Station Tuesday told us they can accept the fee increases, considering the long-term benefit.

"It's a win-win for everybody," Freie said. He says the money the landfill generates each year will pay for the project after just a few years.

SWS General Manager Mark Spafford says the new facility will add another 20 years of desperately needed operation to the landfill. The other fact is, Spafford says, there are simply no other viable options for landfill sites in the Municipality of Anchorage.

"So we'd have to end up exporting our trash to the Mat-Su if they would take it,” Spafford said. “Or worse yet, we'd have to do something like barging it out of here which is the last thing we want to do."

Assemblyman Christopher Constant says the long-term savings of the project justify the short-term expense.

"What this is going to do is ensure that there's an equitable pay base,” Constant said. “The whole city is going to help to pay. Everybody who brings fill to the landfill here will help to ensure the longevity of the landfill."

The Assembly has authorized the funding for the purchase of the property. Now, the mayor's team steps up to negotiate the final contract.

Spafford says he hopes to break ground on the project by 2020, but it’s more likely construction begins 2021.

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