BAD AXE – At a Committee Meeting of the Whole earlier this week, the Huron County Board of Commissioners discussed the 40-acre expansion to the Huron County Landfill in Sheridan Township.
Commissioner John Nugent said he attended a meeting in Lake Township where Angelo Caranagno, general manager for Emterra Environmental, spoke to a crowd and answered questions. Lake Township, which is on the fence on whether or not it wants to approve the county’s landfill expansion project, sent a letter of concern to commissioners last month.
Nugent said he was going to ask Caranagno to attend a similar meeting in Hume Township in the near future.
“I think it’s important for the county to get this thing approved,” Nugent said. “That’s my personal feeling on it, and what the townships and cities do is their business.”
“It’s important that they know what they are approving,” said Commissioner Steve Vaughan. “It’s important that they have the correct information out. It’s a good thing (having these meetings).”
One specific frustration that the Lake Township board expressed was the disposal of Canadian trash in Huron County. Nugent said this practice is no longer taking place, as the landfill hasn’t accepted Canadian trash since 2009.
“The only reason they had trash going in there in the past, is because the tipping fees were lower in the States than they were in Canada,” Nugent said. “But I guess now Canada is more competitive and it doesn’t pay them to ship it to Michigan.”
From there, the conversation shifted to tipping fees both Sheridan Township and Huron County received from the landfill. Nugent wondered why this couldn’t be done with wind turbines.
Vaughan explained that in order to do so, they would have to turn Huron County into a special assessment district, which would be quite an undertaking. Fellow commissioners also pointed out that any money received from doing this would have to be used for an essential service.
“As many turbines as we’re going to have, it may be worth it,” Nugent said. “Especially with the tax issues that we’re having with them and how they’re fighting it tooth-and-nail. Maybe we should start looking at another angle on this thing, rather than just accepting it.”
Tipping fees the county receives from the landfill was done by contract in the early 2000s. But when that expired, they were done as a gesture but were not obligated. The county then takes that money (up to $13,000) and gives it to Thumb Industries for use for its recycling program, which benefits both the company and the clients it serves in the county.
“Everybody is affected by the presence of those turbines,” Nugent said. “Why shouldn’t we receive something that we can use for the benefit of all of Huron County, instead of just a limited few that are benefiting from them currently? It’s just a thought.”
After further discussion, the board thought maybe it should let the current tax structure it’s working on play out. If that doesn’t work, then maybe the special assessment district option can be further explored.
In other business:
• Nugent touched on the issue regarding a lack of funds available to monitor Lake Huron water for E. coli bacteria this summer. Most of Michigan’s federal money set aside for beach testing will go to Macomb County. Nugent said he would be talking with state Rep. Terry Brown, D-Pigeon, and get an update on the possibility of securing funds to continue the testing.
• Chairman Clark Elftman again voiced his dislike for online reader comments on the Huron Daily Tribune articles. Elftman gave examples of comments posted following various articles – including some directed at him.
He went on to cite a study done on the hurtful behavior of Internet “trolls” and how only a small majority of them are causing problems. Elftman said he feels these people are tarnishing the name of the commissioners and do the county as a whole, no good. He indicated he would try to meet with the Tribune’s editor.
“It’s gone beyond the bounds of decency, and should not be happening to the people of this county,” Elftman concluded.
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