June 19, 2008

Landfill Authority to Make Case for Dump Sale on Ballots

By Kristen Moulton, The Salt Lake Tribune

Jun. 19--BRIGHAM CITY -- The board representing garbage districts in five northern Utah counties decided unanimously Wednesday to drop its challenge of a voter initiative in Box Elder County.

The Northern Utah Regional Landfill Authority board (NURLA), comprised of elected officials from Davis to Cache County, instead turned its attention to defeating the initiative on November's ballot.

Opponents of selling Box Elder County's Little Mountain Landfill to NURLA gathered more than 4,000 signatures last winter, giving voters a shot at reversing a Box Elder County Commission decision made last December.

The NURLA board this spring sued in 1st District Court, arguing the matter was not open to a referendum, but Judge Ben Hadfield ruled against NURLA.

"We communicated as a body that our intent was to refer to the court to have its opinion," said Box Elder County Commissioner Clark Davis, who added that the board should "live with the decision."

The board now has to figure out how it will campaign for the sale because it is illegal to use public money to do so.

Attorney Patrick Malone said NURLA can use public money to explain its reasoning, but must give opponents the opportunity to explain their positions as well.

Brigham City Mayor Lou Ann Christensen told the board its plan for a regional landfill would save the city $90,000 to $150,000 a year in tipping fees. She encouraged the board to organize independent supporters to raise money for the publicity campaign.

Opponents of selling the landfill told the board it should consider other options.

Dean Anderson, of Bear River City, said the Little Mountain site is too small for the five counties' garbage, while a site on Promontory Point is better suited.

"They just need to look at the big picture," said Anderson. "They need to super-size."

The board settled on expanding the landfill at Little Mountain, southwest of Tremonton, as the best choice after a feasibility study last year.

Resident Bonnie Germer, who was involved in the petition drive, said she doesn't want her county partnering with others in the regional landfill authority.

"If you lose in November, don't come back suing us, because we will fight you again," said Germer.

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