Closure of Huntington City Landfill has already begun, to finish in 2019

Landfill crews lay down cover for grass planted to help remedy erosion at several areas at the Huntington City Landfill.
Landfill crews lay down cover for grass planted to help remedy erosion at several areas at the Huntington City Landfill. Photo provided.

Fourth in a series
City of Huntington
The Huntington City Landfill, which opened in 1970, won’t be around to see its 50th birthday.

Beset by rising costs, ever tightening environmental regulations, and the consequences of missteps in the past, the landfill is now being permanently closed. Trash pickup and disposal in the City of Huntington will be outsourced to a private company.

The Huntington City Landfill will be permanently closed in 2019.

The closure, which is being done in two phases, has already begun.

The closure of sections 1 and 2, totaling about 26 acres, began in mid-2017 and is near completion.

Closure of sections 3 and 4, which encompass about 28 acres, will take place in 2019. Since 2013, section 3 has been the only active area of the landfill.

In preparation for the closure of the remaining areas of the landfill, the city will hire a private contractor to provide curbside pickup of trash and to dispose of that trash.

The private contractor is expected to begin serving the city before the end of 2018. Monthly fees charged to city residents for trash pickup are expected to be $9 to $11 per collection site.

For many years, trash pickup has been provided by city employees using city-owned trucks. That trash has been deposited in the city landfill.

Trash picked up by the private contractor will be hauled outside of Huntington County, as the city landfill will stop accepting solid waste on March 29, 2019.

Work on permanent closure of the remaining landfill area will begin on April 1, 2019, and is expected to be complete on Nov. 15, 2019.

A collection site for hazardous and electronic waste, which is located adjacent to the city landfill, is operated separately by the Huntington County Solid Waste Management District and will continue to operate.

In early 2018, city leaders explored various options before deciding to close the landfill, including dramatically increasing fees charged to landfill users and restricting use of the landfill to city residents only.

If county residents continued to use the landfill, fees would have increased from $12.50 per cubic yard of trash to $15 for city residents, and from $25 to $55 for county residents. With the 20 percent across-the-board fee increase, the landfill would remain viable for eight to 10 years, with closure set for 2025.

Reserving the landfill for city residents only would have meant the $12.50 fee would have increased to $81.
That 550 percent fee increase would have kept the landfill open for an estimated 12 to 14 years, with closure set for 2029.

The cost of immediately closing the landfill, the option that was ultimately selected, was estimated at $5 million. The city will issue bonds to pay for the work and pay off the bonds over 20 years with a property tax increase estimated at 9 cents per $100 of assessed value. For the owner of a home valued at $75,700, the tax increase would amount to $15.12 a year.

At the same time, the city street department would see savings in its budget because it is no longer picking up trash.

One major expenditure that will be avoided is the purchase of two new garbage trucks for approximately $650,000. The city will continue pickups of yard waste and large household items, and curbside recycling will continue.

Recycling, Mayor Brooks Fetters says, “is the right thing to do. It’s good stewardship.”

The city will realize some savings in its landfill budget, but landfill costs won’t disappear completely. Under IDEM regulations, the city must continue to maintain the landfill for at least 30 years after closure is complete.