Dallas Should Go With the Flow Control

Go with the flow: How about that? City council member Carolyn Davis said something Buzz agrees with. Either it's time our doc adjusted our meds, or Davis actually made sense at a recent hearing on "waste flow control" when she said: "[Trash has] been going there for 50 years and nobody said anything about it. Two of my swimming pools are about to get closed. I got potholes. ... I think we need the money for this city."

Davis was talking about city staff's proposal to require private trash haulers to tote all the refuse they collect in Dallas to city-owned facilities instead of private landfills outside city limits. Staffers are selling the plan with high-flying talk of trash at McCommas Bluff Landfill becoming a future treasure, thanks to advanced recycling and trash-to-energy conversion. (The city claims it already makes $1.6 million in royalties from selling methane created by decomposing garbage at McCommas.) Someday, they say, garbage will be golden.

Yeah, we know. Sounds like so many sailboats and solar-powered water taxis on Trinity Lake downtown — by which we mean the usual someday-soon City Hall razzle-dazzle that comes when they're selling something smelly.

Totally unnecessary in this case, since they had us, and apparently Davis, at $15 to $18 million. That's about how much the city expects to collect annually in new "tipping fees" — money paid to dump a load of trash — from private waste haulers serving commercial and multifamily buildings. The haulers don't like that, and neither will their customers when added costs are passed on to them. Some people who live near McCommas don't like flow control, because it would mean more garbage trucks rumbling through their neighborhoods and a much bigger pile of trash at the landfill. The NAACP doesn't like it, because all that trash from white northern neighborhoods will be rolling into a predominantly black, less affluent part of town. Words like "environmental justice" and "ghost taxes" have entered the city council debate over flow control, which continues at the end of this month.

Buzz is generally down with environmental justice, but these days, whose political convictions can stand up to several million in cold hard plunked on the table? Bucks for a cash-strapped city? Woo-hoo, let's fill some of Davis' potholes. Ghost taxes are about all we can raise these days, so thanks for taking another one for the team, southern Dallas. We owe you — again — but we promise to repay you. Someday. Real soon.

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams