Panhandle trash contract to be sold

May 05, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - There soon could be a new face on the waste disposal landscape in Berkeley and Jefferson counties, following a decision by the region's lone waste hauling company to sell its residential business to another West Virginia trash hauler.

Waste Management Inc. Director of Government Affairs Lisa Kardell said Thursday the company filed an application earlier this week with the state's Public Service Commission to transfer its transportation certificate for residential waste hauling to Apple Valley Waste Services Inc.

The purchase will cost Apple Valley, which was registered in West Virginia in March 2006, $860,500, according to the asset purchase agreement filed by both companies with the WV-PSC. The company's owner, Randie Lawson, is the former owner of General Refuse Service Inc., which provided trash hauling services in Cabell County, W.Va.

Indicating the company expected approval of the request within the next 30 to 90 days, Kardell said the move will allow Waste Management to concentrate on its commercial service.


"It's strictly just a business decision that will allow us to focus on our commercial and rolloff customers," Kardell said, adding it was not uncommon in the waste hauling industry for companies to sell off different lines of its business.

Lawson, who indicated the company will base its operations in the Martinsburg area, said all of Waste Management's current employees will be offered employment opportunities with the new company.

"We'll be keeping all the employees and we'll be looking to hire new people," said Lawson, who said his purchase of the larger company's assets marks the end of his retirement from waste hauling. He said he sold his former company to Allied Waste-owned BFI Waste Services in 2001.

Lawson acknowledged he would be seeking a rate increase for residential customers following the opening of the Jefferson County Transfer Station, which is scheduled to go online later this month. The rate increase would be necessary to offset costs associated with higher tipping fees at that facility, Lawson said.

"In order for us to dump there, we'd have to have the rate increase," he said.

According to the terms of the agreement filed by both companies, if a rate increase is sought but not approved by the PSC, Apple Valley would not be obliged to deliver trash to the transfer station, which will be operated in part by Waste Management.

In Berkeley County, customers currently pay $13.39 per month for residential trash collection. Jefferson County residents pay a slightly higher rate because a curbside recycling fee is included. The rate there is $16.55 each month.

Kardell said the decision by Waste Management to sell its residential certificate was unrelated to a recent order by a U.S. District Court judge who ruled that the PSC's state certification process was a violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

That order, which declared invalid a state statute requiring solid waste haulers who transport trash to other states from West Virginia to obtain a certificate of convenience and necessity from the PSC, is expected to set the stage for increased commercial competition among waste haulers. An application by BFI Waste Services to haul commercially in Berkeley and Jefferson counties is scheduled to be heard July 25 to 27 in Martinsburg.

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