Rural counties depend on landfill business

| Print |  Email
Articles - February 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gilliam really wanted Seattle’s garbage, and Portland’s and anyone else’s, because more waste meant more jobs. But if Waste Management was going to bury trash in Gilliam’s back yard, they were going to have to pay for the privilege. Pryor and Gronquist wrangled a generous list of guarantees for the county: local hiring; closure and maintenance of old, unsafe dumps; charitable donations; and a “host fee” tied to garbage volumes.

landfillsmap

Waste Management was willing to make significant concessions in order to get a regional landfill built before the competition; Metro, the Portland area regional government, was looking for a place to send its trash and Waste Management wanted first dibs. But even after the deal was sealed, the landfill built and the trash flowing, Waste Management was careful to oblige the county. If there was litter on the road the landfill used, Pryor would march into the senior manager’s office and slam a garbage bag full of it onto his desk. “Clean it up,” she’d say. “We didn’t sign up to have you trash our county.” And Waste Management would clean it up.

Residents of Gilliam and other counties that host landfills say they have a good deal: a steady, recession-resistant employer that pays the county incentives instead of the other way around. But the dynamic between counties and waste companies has changed in the 20 years since Gilliam County opened its doors to the landfill.

Waste companies have grown rapidly through mergers and acquisitions in the years after Oregon’s regional landfills were built, becoming vertically integrated, multi-billion dollar conglomerates that often own hundreds of landfills. Management consolidated; companies sent decision makers to corporate offices, leaving site managers and salespeople as the local liaisons.

Arlington-landfill-Laura-Pryor_2988
Laura Pryor fought to bring the landfill to Arlington when she was county judge. Ronald D. Wilson is the owner of Arlington Ace Hardware Store, which gets business from the landfill.

Columbia Ridge is now just one out of 273 landfills in North America controlled by industry leader Waste Management, which owns two other regional landfills in Oregon. Waste Management was bought in 1998 by USA Waste, the nation’s third-largest waste corporation. The new Waste Management (USA Waste dropped its name because of global ambitions) pulled its senior manager out of Arlington. If Laura Pryor wanted to slam a garbage bag onto a company manager’s desk today, she’d have to drive to Washington state.

Meanwhile, Oregon’s counties have grown accustomed to their new revenue stream. The landfill brings in more than twice the money Gilliam collects in property taxes, making it the county’s largest revenue source. The $3 million in host fees fund line items such as the annual $600 property tax offset for residents, but 25% goes to economic development, with each of Gilliam’s three incorporated cities getting a cut to bolster their budgets, and the rest covering essentials such as the county fire department.



 

More Articles

6 things to know about the Amtrak Cascades route

The Latest
Friday, May 22, 2015
thumb3BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The recent tragedy in Philadelphia has called attention to Amtrak and the nation's woefully underfunded rail service. Here are six facts about the Amtrak Cascades corridor between Eugene and Vancouver B.C. 


Read more...

The best crisis is the one you avoid

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
crisisthumbBY GARY CONKLING | GUEST BLOGGER

Avoiding a crisis is a great way to burnish your reputation, increase brand loyalty and become a market leader.


Read more...

Footloose

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Founded 12 years ago, Keen Inc. likes to push the envelope, starting with the debut of the “Newport” closed toe sandal in 2003. Since then, the company has opened a factory on Swan Island and a sleek new headquarters in the Pearl District. The brand’s newest offering, UNEEK, is a sandal made from two woven cords and not much more.


Read more...

5 highlights from the Angel Oregon Showcase

The Latest
Thursday, April 23, 2015
IMG 5069BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

The entrepreneurial spirit was alive and well at the Oregon Angel showcase, an annual event for angel investors and early stage entrepreneurs.


Read more...

Oregon businesses face destruction from future earthquake

The Latest
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
htctthumb1BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR

An earthquake would completely destroy many Oregon businesses, highlighting the urgent need for the private and public sectors to collaborate on shoring up disaster preparedness, said panelists at an Oregon Business breakfast summit today.


Read more...

On the Road

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

My daughter turned 18 last week, and for her birthday I got her a Car2Go membership. Not to label myself a disruptor or anything, but it felt like a groundbreaking moment. The two of us, mother and child, were participating in a new teen rite of passage: Instead of handing over the car keys, I handed over a car-sharing card — with the caveat that she not use the gift as her own personal car service.


Read more...

Letting Go

April 2015
Friday, March 27, 2015
BY AMY MILSHTEIN

As baby boomers sell their businesses, too many forget the all-important succession plan.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS