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Commissioners create new county department

November 30, 1999|By DAN DEARTH

The Washington County Commissioners have created a new department to handle the county's environmental needs, particularly the disposal of solid waste, County Commissioners President John F. Barr said.

Barr said the county's existing Water Quality and Solid Waste departments will integrate to become the Division of Environmental Management.

The consolidation won't take place, however, until a director of the Division of Environmental Management is named, Barr said. The commissioners hope to fill that position within the next few months, he said.

"There's always been discussion to put water quality and (solid waste) together," Barr said.

The Division of Environmental Management won't cost the county more money by creating additional jobs because the county expects to lose personnel through retirement, he said.

The Forty West Landfill is reaching its capacity faster than expected, Barr said. Ten years ago, officials thought the landfill could last another 80 years. Now, the estimate is closer to 30 years, he said.

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Some of the environmental director's duties will include working with state and federal environmental agencies to find new places to dump the county's solid waste, Barr said.

According to information provided by the county, the new director's annual salary will be between $64,749 and $103,597, depending on experience.

A press release that the county issued said that the commissioners took action to "incorporate" the Water Quality and Solid Waste departments during a Feb. 27 closed session. That would have violated public meeting laws.

County Administrator Greg Murray said the press release was incorrect. The commissioners only discussed incorporating the departments during the closed meeting. The actual decision was made while the commissioners met in public, he said.

Before the consolidation becomes official, management duties, as they currently exist, will be handled by two veteran staff members.

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