For years, much has been written about the wasteful folly of New Hanover County’s waste incinerator, known as WASTEC. Back in 2006, the John Locke Foundation did a report on that waste. You can read that report here. Since that time, the county realized it was losing $500k a month to keep the horrifically inefficient incinerator open.
Now, the county is once again, considering wasting millions to open it yet again.
(StarNews) At the regular board meeting at 6pm, commissioners will open the floor for a public hearing about the incinerator proposal before possibly taking a vote. ”The only question in my mind is, is that the route to go or something else?” Commissioner Jason Thompson said.
But there’s SO much more to this discussion that affects taxpayers.
County staff estimated that tip fees could raise to up to $93 per ton – a substantial increase from the current tip fee of $59 per ton. Hubbard said that could add about $3 per month to a customer’s bill.
No word on whether the county will pursue expanding its existing landfill which could add significant capacity for decades. That would be at least one avenue that could save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.
The incinerator burns a lot of trash, but at a SERIOUS premium to taxpayers. Is it worth it? Nope!
Here is a reasonable 20-year solution (you won’t see this ANYWHERE in the media):
1) use existing building at Wastec for transfer station (County Maintains control)
2) negotiate (issue RFP if required) a volume deal at the closest regional solid waste landfill. (use their space up – the county saves theirs). Regional landfills cost v. NHC is much lower, they do almost 1M tons per year and it will reflect in the price. Disposal would run in the low $20/ton excluding transit cost. ($93/ton being explored tonight)
3) Begin expansion of Southern disposal area by getting permits done and then keep that option in case the regional landfill tries to increasing the price above what is acceptable. As long as the regional landfill knows that New Hanover can at any time handle their own waste, it will afford them a price below what New Hanover can do for itself. (Mecklenburg County has used this approach against Allied/Republic for years and have been the benefactor of saving millions and not depleting their own airspace and having it for the future.)
Incentives, of any type, are always discriminatory to those who don’t receive them. Simply put, they’re rebates to specific industries that legislators, commissioners, or city councils like better than others.
If one were to have combined the two film industry related stories in the StarNews, it would NOT have seemed favorable toward some local legislators on the incentives front. I’ll try to merge them as they relate to the area legislators. All references are from the StarNews:
1) Senator Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) - Renting out a boat slip he owns on the waterfront in Southport to the company behind “Safe Haven,” the movie based on the Nicholas Sparks book of the same name. They will pay him $50 a day for up to 82 days, or a maximum $4,100. He also said film representatives have taken pictures inside and outside his house – and others in the neighborhood – for possible use in the movie, but they have “committed to no one.” Rabon lives across the street from where production crews are building a set for the film along the waterfront. ”It would be a nice thing to have, a nice conversation piece,” the first-term senator said. Said Rabon of the film industry: “It’s my district and my industry, and I will support (incentives).”
Rep. Susi Hamilton (D-New Hanover) – Renting out her house in downtown Wilmington for the month of Juneto an employee of the company that’s shooting a film starring Jennifer Aniston. Hamilton wouldn’t say how much her house is renting for. ”It’s a private transaction,” she said. “It was enough to make it attractive to us, and I’d do it again.” Hamilton said film industry representatives held an event for her this year to raise money for her Democratic primary, which she won. She said she is “very much in favor of keeping the industry alive, for the entire state.”
The first story about the financial benefits is here. The second about incentives is here. Why weren’t these stories combined to start with? It’s perfectly legal, but to a wary public, this looks a lot like an inside deal. What are the odds that two of the area’s six legislators just came into a money making situation with an industry that wants to extend their incentives? And this makes no mention of the relationship between Rep. Danny McComas (R-New Hanover) and his long standing lease with the industry for his building across from the studios on 23rd St.
Just as a point of information. Film industry icon California faces numerous fiscal challenges, not the least of which is an explosive $16b budget problem, many folks are looking elsewhere to make movies and NC makes a lot of sense, even without the incentives.
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