By Sam Kaufman
A solid year-ending quarterly payment from Waste Control Specialists in September pushed the county’s take to over $1 million, according to county officials.
Through three quarters of the recently completed fiscal year, WCS had provided the county with $621,246 through a five percent surcharge on its low level radioactive waste disposal operation.
The September payment amounted to just over $454,000 for a yearly total of around $1.07 million.
County officials are anticipating the first check of the new fiscal year to arrive later this month.
Presently, a Legacy Fund comprised of a large chunk of WCS funds contains around $6 million, according to county officials.
The majority of the WCS funds—90 percent—go into the Legacy Fund for projects related to “public good,” while the other 10 percent is dedicated to the county’s Fund 39, they added.
The Community Legacy Committee, which began its operation last year, accepts project applications for possible WCS funding, before vetting the requests and potentially recommending them for commissioners court approval. Projects involving local governing entities and non-profit organizations can be accepted for WCS money, according to county officials.
The approximate $600,000 in Fund 39 is earmarked to offset costs for capital projects included in the county’s budget this year. Those projects include replacing the golf course’s irrigation system and covering the outdoor arena at the Andrews County Expo Arena.
Additionally, the county provides around $75,000 annually through Fund 39 for AeroCare air-med care for county residents, according to county officials.
The Legacy Fund total will be reduced some this year through approved projects that haven’t started.
County officials said the largest is $735,000 committed to building a new Andrews Food Pantry building and parking area on school district property across from Underwood Elementary.
Typically, the county receives more than $1 million annually through the surcharge on WCS’ Compact Landfill operation.
The largest quarterly check the county has received from WCS was slightly over $1 million in December 2014. On the other hand, the lowest quarterly check was $129,000 in December 2013, according to county officials.
WCS’ $72 million low-level radioactive waste disposal facility—comprised of the Compact Landfill and the much larger Federal Landfill—was financed through a unique county bond election that narrowly passed by three votes in 2009.
The company previously made annual payments of more than $7 million to cover bond debt. But WCS’ sale earlier this year to the J.F. Lehman Company resulted in the buyer providing funds to eventually pay off the remainder of the note, according to county officials.
WCS’ Compact Landfill, which has been in operation for more than seven years, can accept waste from customers inside the Texas-Vermont Compact and from those in more than 30 other states through Compact Commission action.
Initially, state legislators approved a five percent surcharge on WCS’ Compact Landfill to go to the county and a larger percentage to the state. But legislators approved reducing the state’s cut during the last session, which, at the time, was expected to increase business to the Compact Landfill due to decreased taxing.
However, it appears through the revenue generated from the county’s take that the Compact Landfill’s business actually decreased last fiscal year.