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More Trash Talk as Council Dumps, For Now, Proposal to Take All Solid Waste to McCommas

Since we're about to get all Dallas City Hall up in this piece, a programming note: We were planning on doing another liveblog from tomorrow's meeting of the Ad Hoc Gas Drilling Task Force Nominating Committee (band name alert!), since yesterday's was such a big hit. Only: It was just canceled. Why? Because, apparently, the Mavs parade has somehow managed to shut down city government. It's been rescheduled to Tuesday, I've been told.

Now, then.

I tuned in late for the latest council briefing on the subject of flow control -- you know, the proposal that would force all the solid-waste haulers in the city to dump their trash at the McCommas Bluff Landfill rather than one of the dozen other sites in the area. Long story short: Marys Suhm and Nix say that not only will the proposal generate somewhere between $13 and $18 million in additional revenue, but create tons of usable and sellable energy via that methane-capturing system out at the landfill.

By the time I got to the hearing, Paul Quinn College President Michael Sorrell and Mayor Dwaine Caraway were deep into discussing how hauling all the solid waste in the city to the southern sector was yet another slap in the face to a part of town bereft simple quality-of-life items like decent grocery stores. Tennell Atkins, Caroline Davis and Vonciel Jones Hill have already come out against flow control; this was the first time Caraway made his position crystal clear.

Atkins then said, look, he doesn't even buy the projected increase in revenue: He's not sure "those are true numbers," he said. "I should have a right to say we need to hire an expert, an independent person, to show me the numbers." He wondered why in the world would he agree to something that will directly impact his district without a single town hall meeting explaining the pros and cons of directing all trash to the landfill.

"The issue today is the trash," he said. "It's about trash. My concern is: What it will look like 15, 20 years from now around McCommas landfill. ... Get an expert. What's wrong with that? ... You're gonna shove this down my throat. There hasn't been one town hall meeting. That's not fair to me, that's not fair to my community."

City Manager Suhm insisted she wasn't trying to rush the council, but if the council passed on this today, that additional revenue wouldn't be included in the balanced budget she'll provide to council on August 8. "I just need you to tell me to spend more time on this, to drop it," she said, insisting she's got other things to worry about -- like balancing a budget. "I can balance the budget with or without this. We brought you a concept ... but we're not in the mode of rushing."

There was much chatter after this, much of it confusing, as council members tried to pass myriad motions involving what to do next. From the sound of it, they opted to table the proposal -- with the caveat that it might come back after council's July break, and that in the meantime Suhm would look into upping franchise fees for waste haulers (and others) as she works to find the $30 mil, give or take, she's still short for next fiscal year's budget.

Atkins still sounded concerned, telling Suhm that without that increase in revenue expected from flow control, "you will cut other things." She told him, and the council, she'll come up with her balanced budget, and if they don't like it they'll have eight weeks or so to change it. And that was that.

Now, to the capital improvement program update. Been there, done that.


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