Jul 16, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff WriterThe Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes are taking over operation of the four solid waste transfer stations on the Wind River Indian Reservation immediately.
The Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District Board on Monday voted 4-3 to approve a contract paying the tribes $725,000 to manage the sites for three years.
The chairman of both tribal business councils had signed the contract previously, and the chairman of the Solid Waste Board signed the agreement July 15.
The new contract comes after seven months of disagreement among the entities involved.
"This gets us pretty much to where we'd hoped to be, and I hope the Wind River Environmental Quality Commission feels the same way," board member Mike Morgan said.
In an interview, Wind River Environmental Quality Commission solid waste coordinator Ryan Ortiz said he was pleased with the contract.
"We spent a lot of time working on it," he said. "I'm glad we can start moving forward."
The contract stipulates that the tribes will run the transfer stations and collect tipping fees at or below the rates other county facilities charge. The tribes will haul the trash to county landfills or baling stations and pay to dump it at the same rate the Solid Waste District charges other users.
The contract will last three years, using July 1 as its effective date. The district will pay the tribes to operate the stations $250,000 a year for two years and $225,000 for the third.
For now, county trucks will transport the trash from transfer stations to dumps because the tribes do not have the necessary equipment, Ortiz said. WREQC is planning to use a federal grant to purchase trucks to haul the waste.
Under the contract, the Solid Waste District's payments to the tribes will be reduced $8,000 for each month the county hauls the waste.
Ortiz said the hours of operation for the four transfer stations are not finalized but would be different for each location. Schedules will be announced and posted online.
He said recycling is not yet available at the reservation stations, but his organization is planning to add that service.
Tribal and county governments had been unable to agree to a new contract after the previous one expired in December. Since then, the groups decided twice to continue operating under the old contract's rules as deadlines came and went.
The last so-called bridge contract finally lapsed on July 1. No agreement to extend it was in place, and a final contract had not been signed.
Ortiz said tribal governments took on operation of the stations for the past two weeks. They hired a waste management company to bring trash containers to the four reservation transfer sites, which have been open at all hours, he said.
The board did not discuss the details of the contract at the July 15 meeting, but it was the advertised subject of a special meeting June 26. Executive sessions at the June 13 and June 17 meetings also were forums for talks on the contract.
At the July 15 meeting, board members said they did not have a quorum on June 26 and so did not take minutes.
One board member at the July 15 meeting wanted the votes on the contract to be secret.
"I think when it comes time to vote on this, I think it needs to be a paper ballot because of all the complexities and stuff," board member Gary Weisz said at the July 15 meeting.
Morgan disagreed saying, "We don't get to be secret up here."
Chairman Mike Adams had the board vote by a show of hands.
Morgan, Jeff Hermansky and Travis Brockie voted for approving the contract. Weisz, Barbara Gardner and Rick Klaproth voted against signing it. Adams broke the tie by voting "aye."
Board members Steve Baumann and Jerry Crews were not at the meeting.
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