By Sam Kaufman

August 20, 2020 – Andrews County News

Waste Control Specialists’ third-quarter check to the county—received at the end of June—was nearly identical to the previous quarter payment and enabled the county to surpass a milestone figure with WCS money.

Andrews County Auditor Carol White said WCS deposited a check of nearly $209,000 on June 30.

The county continues to be on a pace to surpass $1 million in WCS funds this year. Through three quarters of the fiscal year, the county has received $844,599 from WCS based on a five percent surcharge of the company’s gross receipts from its low-level Compact Landfill.

The second-quarter check was $205,000, or about only $4,000 less than this quarter’s amount.

Historically speaking, WCS payments surpassed the $13 million level with the recent check. The county has received $13.1 million from WCS through payments dating back around 10 years.

If the present pace after three checks continues with the final quarter, the projected annual total would amount to around $1.14 million.

The first-quarter check of $431,000 was the largest so far this fiscal year.

In total, Andrews County received around $1.47 million from WCS last fiscal year. That was the highest annual amount in around three years— when the WCS surcharge generated $1.5 million for its second best total.

But that figure pales in comparison to the record year of $3.2 million from 2014-2015, according to county records.

WCS’ Compact Landfill, from which the five percent surcharge is generated, takes low-level radioactive waste from within the Texas/Vermont Compact area and from 33 states outside the Compact. Non-compact customers must go through the Texas Low-Level Compact Committee for approval.

The company’s low-level waste disposal facility also consists of the larger federal landfill as well.

The majority of the WCS funds received by the county—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, according to county officials.

The Community Legacy Committee, which began functioning in 2017, 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.

There have been some major projects recently approved by the commissioners court for WCS funds. Two of them are nearly completed and a third should be finished by early next year, according to county officials.

That includes the court’s approval of around $2 million for the Legacy Park project involving the demolition of the former jail facility by the chamber office and erecting a park to honor first responders. Additionally, a historical museum will be added at the Means ranch home building, along with additions and improvements at Andrews County Veterans Memorial and chamber areas.

Other significant projects this year include around $2.3 million to restore the youth baseball fields at Lakeside Park, along with adding restrooms and a concession area.

The project, which is nearing completion, also includes improvements to the Sports Complex fields.

Also, approximately $1.2 million in WCS funds was approved for construction of a new Andrews Food Pantry and parking area in southwest Andrews across from Underwood Elementary School.

That project is also nearing completion.

In the past, WCS funds have gone toward the city’s splash park and Kids Kingdom, purchasing ambulances and school buses, and a community building at a southwest Andrews park, to name some.

White said the Legacy Fund presently consists of around $4.6 million, of which a portion will go toward final bills related with present projects.

The county’s fund has around $270,000 in it, the county auditor added.

She said $75,000 of the county’s portion is budgeted each year for an air med care membership that covers county residents.