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Blow to the flow? RSWA, Boyd distancing from monopoly talk

by Dave McNair
published 6:11pm Saturday Oct 10, 2009
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news-water-supes“It is absolutely false that I supported flow control,” says BoS member Ken Boyd, calling it “more than a stretch” to suggest he ever did.


Two weeks after the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority Board discussed its interest in getting a flow control ordinance to bolster a revamped Ivy transfer station, Authority director Tom Frederick now appears to be backing away from such a move, which would have given the Authority monopoly control over trash collection and might have driven the Authority’s nemesis out of business.

On October 7, after news of the flow control discussion broke and Coy Barefoot and Rob Schilling took up the issue on their radio programs, Frederick appeared before the County Board of Supervisors to say that his staff was not presently pursing flow control.

“I have not been directed by the Board to work on a flow control ordinance,” said Frederick, summarizing what he told the Supes, “and am not working on one.”

Earlier in the week, Supervisor Ken Boyd, who also sits on the RSWA Board, called in to Schilling’s show to distance himself from flow control, a term he said he “was not familiar with” when it came up at the Waste Authority meeting.

Since then, Boyd said he’d learned that adopting a flow control ordinance for a private trash facility would be illegal. True. But the Board also discussed the possibility of creating an Authority-owned facility built and operated by a private investor, which Authority lawyer Kurt Krueger characterized as an arrangement that might legally allow the Authority to adopt a flow control. “That way,” added County development director Mark Graham, “you’re sure of your market before you make an investment.”

So is flow control truly off the table? While the RSWA Board has yet to make a decision on the matter, Boyd told Schilling he was “willing to listen and get the information and facts before we make a decision,” but added that “flow control sounds like something I don’t want to support.”

Friday, Boyd was still irked by the suggestion that he supported the ordinance.

“It is absolutely false that I supported flow control,” says Boyd, calling it “more than a stretch” to suggest he ever did.

As Boyd explains, his preference is for a private company to take over the Ivy site and build and operate a transfer station there to take the “burden” of trash collection off local government.

“We are just envisioning a transfer station where we can increase single stream recycling to forward to a MRF,” says Boyd, referring to a Material Recovery Facility. “If we did that, we intend to invite any MRF operator to bid on our recyclables.”

But why would anyone bring trash to a new Ivy transfer station when there is already an area MRF just down the road? Indeed, Peter Van der Linde’s new Materials Recovery Facility in Zion Crossroads, which charges $22 less per ton than the Authority does, is about the same distance East of  Charlottesville as the Ivy site is to the West. Without a flow control guarantee, what could the Authority offer a potential investor to ensure that trash is brought to the facility?

Boyd can think of a few. “The location of an already-permitted site in the Western part of the county, proximity to a growth area, fuel cost saving, and we could consider a favorable lease arrangement,” he says.

However, as Krueger and other Board members have already suggested, there might not be much of a response to an RFP without a flow control guarantee, as the man the Authority is currently suing for $20 million is essentially making the idea of transfer stations obsolete.

For instance, if the Authority took Van der Linde up on his offer to place his containers at the Ivy site for free, where haulers and citizens on the Western side of town could deposit their trash and recyclables, and which Van der Linde says he will monitor and empty at his MRF for $75 and charge a $24 per ton tipping fee, $32 less than the Authority charges at its Ivy facility, wouldn’t that basically accomplish the same thing as building a new Ivy transfer station?

At post time, Boyd had not yet responded to that question.

“As I have stated many times one of my personal objectives is to increase recycling in the county,” Boyd said earlier. “What we are wondering is whether or not there is a feasible business plan that does not involve taxpayers dollars.”

Updated 10/12/2009 12:28

Waste story archives

October 8, 2009Council Candidates condemn RSWA lawsuit

October 1, 2009Lawyers, trash, and money

September 28, 2009Flow blow: Wasteworks may seek trash monopoly

August 17, 2009Trash talkin’: Waste war could decide the future

August 17, 2009Don Van der Linde? Wasteworks whacks recycler with RICO

May 29, 2009Recycle this! Van der Linde steps up tone

May 19, 2009Dire words for Waste Authority

April 20, 2009Wasted revenue? Authority realized in 2005 station didn’t track origins

April 2, 2009What a Waste: Is the trash Authority going obsolete?

July 17, 2008Single-streamin’: Why not try private sector recycling machine?

February 14, 2008Coming soon! van der Linde’s amazing recycling machine


  • Sam October 10th, 2009 | 10:48 pm

    Still sounds like flow control is on the table, and Boyd is willing to listen. If he was against it, he would say, ” end of conversation no more discussion, I am not willing to listen.” This is Boyd double-speak which Tom Frederick also excells in. And apparently, David Brown supports this, or have you heard otherwise Mr. McNair ? And why isn’t Boyd speaking out against the lawsuit against Van der Linde which is a complete travesty and waste of taxpayer dollars. This man is a free enterprise fraud in my opinion.

  • diagoliv October 10th, 2009 | 11:27 pm

    I’m happy to see Boyd try and set the record straight. Sam, how in the world can you ask an elected official to do anything but consider everything before making a decision. If he votes for flow you will be right but he say he just heard of it and wants to know more. That’s what good elect officials are suppose to do- gather the facts, listen to the voters, and make a reasoned decision.

    As for lawsuits, I’m guessing the lawyers aren’t letting board members talk about stuff in court. It’s almost always a bad idea for non lawyers to explain what lawyers are doing. I’m mad about the money spent on this case and I don’t know what will happen but I’m hoping the truth comes out soon. Lastly taxpayer pay nothing for this, rate payers are the ones footing the bill for all this.

  • Sam October 11th, 2009 | 7:37 am

    I disagree, if he were against flow control he could tell the RSWA that he doesn’t need to hear more.

  • Cville Eye October 11th, 2009 | 4:06 pm

    Boyd is fully aware that “flow control” means setting up an unnecessary government-sponsored monopoly. He wants to hear more?

  • Gasbag Self Ordained Expert October 13th, 2009 | 9:32 am

    diagoliv, isn’t a “rate payer” and a “taxpayer” basically the same thing? Whether a person is paying an increased amount in taxes, or an increased amount elsewhere, it still comes out of the same pocket. The more these clowns spend fighting at every turn in the road, the larger the amount passed on to the “rate payers”.

  • diagoliv October 13th, 2009 | 10:48 am

    Taxpayers and rate payers are not the same. For example, if I am on a well I will not pay for the new water plan. If I get my water from an agency like RSWA then I would pay for the plan. Both the well owner and the customer of RSWA are taxpayers of Albemarle County. Only one is a rate payer

    If I recycled all my trash and didn’t pay a hauler than I wouldn’t pay for this either. You can avoid dealing with most utilites but you can’t avoid the local taxman with property tax (even if you rent) unless you are of no fixed address.

  • **** October 13th, 2009 | 11:12 am

    The only problem with your logic, diagoliv, is that to fund the current future water concept, hundreds of millions of $$$$ will have to be borrowed. Who will do the borrowing? RWSA? They don’t even own the reservoirs (+ who’s got the AAA bond rating?). No, I think it’ll be the CITY and County that’re on the hook for this one. Debt service ALONE might exceed RWSA’s current gross revenue, and thats without paying salaries, maintanance, etc. And if water usage continues to drop?? Who do you think will have to pay for this scheme then? Just the rate-payers? I don’t think so. Think Omni style bail-out every year for the forseeable future. Scary.

  • Betty Mooney October 13th, 2009 | 11:33 am

    Also, a little known fact is that Crozet and Scottsville, even though they will not gain any increased water supply from the new dam and pipeline, will also have to pay the cost–thru increased water and sewer bills.

  • diagoliv October 13th, 2009 | 11:58 am

    **** water authorities borrow money all the time because of the monopoly business they control- they are consider safe risk by the market. You don’t have to own the reservoir. Any simple examine of the tax free bond market would make it clear that the RSWA would be able to market these bonds.

    Will the city and county be responsible if the RSWA defaults?- probably but defaults of this kind and in this state are VERY, VERY rare. Only if a massive default occurs would taxpayers have to bail out the debt. ONLY then might tax payers be on the hook. Our current AAA bond ratings make this improbable given a reasonable viewing of the facts. The authority wold just raise rates to cover the difference. Basically everyone would have to stop using water for the bonds to go into default.

  • **** October 13th, 2009 | 12:27 pm

    But isn’t the goal of this plan to have an abundance of water? If you have to double or triple water rates to pay for it, to the point that people are scaling back usage to the level we saw under drought-imposed water restrictions, does that make sense? There’ll be an abundance of water that no one will be able to afford.
    And if, as you concede, the County will ultimately share responsibility for the new debt, then it’ll obviously share ownership. RWSA can be dissolved at the will of either party, and its reservoir assets would revert back to the City, but if this new dam goes forward, the County will arguably be a joint owner of it? no? which is maybe why the County is pushing so hard for this? Since under the current structure, a dissolution would mean they’d have to buy their water from the City at whatever rate they chose to charge. With shared ownership of water resources, RWSA itself becomes less of a convenient solution and more of a necessity.

  • Cville Eye October 13th, 2009 | 12:41 pm

    Hopefully, the City will announce it is considering not renewing its lease to RWSA in 2012.

  • diagoliv October 13th, 2009 | 12:45 pm

    **** no disrespect but the flight of fancy you just taken is so very unlikely that I would rather spend my time discussing the math that would allow the Redskins to make it to the Super Bowl. ;)

    I would ask you to go and find the covenant of one water authority’s bond issue and just read it. You would find that most of the questions you point to would be moot or just unneeded. It’s a complicated issue and I’m really not trying to minimize your very real concerns but no one issues 100’s of millions of water bonds without going though those very major legal issues- they just don’t leave questions you have asked to chance or possible misunderstanding.

  • Jeff October 13th, 2009 | 12:56 pm

    Kurt Krueger would love to look into this for you diagoliv, at a rate of $515 an hour. The RWSA, RSWA is a goldmine for this law firm, and no problem, we’ll just raise the rates to pay them.

  • **** October 13th, 2009 | 1:17 pm

    diagoliv, I’m not disagreeing with you. All of those issues would be resolved before bonds are floated. But by that point we’ll be $20 million into the new dam with no turning back. Wht else has RWSA ben hoarding cash rather than paying down its current debt? It can spend us to the point of no return without new debt. And how many people in the community do you think will actually read those bond offerings/legal docs? If there’s an existing plan to allocate ownership, liability, etc. I havent heard of it. I think I heard Gary O’Connell say “staffs (meaning city public works, county service authority) have been kicking around numbers” but shouldn’t we know those things before committing to this?

  • St. Halsey October 13th, 2009 | 1:24 pm

    The damn has to be repaired or replaced regardless of the passing of a new water plan- the state will soon insist on it. It is part of the water plan but is possibly the only thing that must be done- according to the state

  • Cville Eye October 13th, 2009 | 2:19 pm

    “Gary O’Connell” is that the same as Overrun O’Connell? Sorry, couldn’t resist.

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