Regional leaders formalized an agreement on Wednesday morning on how to distribute up to $2.6 million in expected profits from a regional landfill. The Texoma Area Solid Waste Authority agreed to a distribution for excess profits that will be based on both founder status and each city’s usage.
County leaders described the agreement as a compromise by the cities of Sherman, Denison and Gainesville following disagreements over the summer on what criteria should carry the most weight in setting future funding distributions.
“This isn’t Sherman’s first choice, nor Denison or Gainesville’s first choice, so it is probably the best choice,” Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said.
TASWA was formed in the 1990s by the three cities, Grayson County and Cooke County with plans to build a regional landfill. These plans ultimately came to fruition in 2005 when the landfill opened for business in Whitesboro along Highway 56.
In the years since, the landfill has proven to be a success with more than 200,000 tons of waste accepted each year. This has only increased in recent years following growth in construction in the region and the closure of the Hillside Landfill in 2018.
These and other factors led regional leaders to predict that the landfill could start generating funds above what is needed to operate the site while also saving for future expansions as early as fall 2019. This spurred a debate on where the excess funds should go.
TASWA bylaws give some guidelines but don’t give a firm direction on how excess funds should be handled. One possibility called for the reduction of the landfill’s tipping fees. Ultimately, the cities decided to distribute the funds between the three TASWA founders.
However, this resulted in disagreement on how these funds should be split. The bylaws state that “the relative use of the facility and the initial capital investment of the respective local governments” should play a role in deciding distributions.
Sherman, which makes up 50 percent of the use of the landfill, argued for a distribution based on landfill usage while Denison argued in favor of an even split between the three equal partners.
It was Magers who broke the stalemate by recommending a distribution that would feature both criteria. The agreement features a distribution that will have two-thirds of the funds distributed evenly between the three cities with the remaining funds distributed based on each city’s usage.
Sherman Mayor David Plyler said the cities are currently unsure how much each will get as the funds are based on future use. Projections offered by city and county leaders have ranged from $1 million to just over $2.6 million.
Based on $1 million in distributions, Plyler said the city could see between $400,000 and $600,000 in funding next year through the agreement. Leaders still need to determine when the distribution will occur, but Plyler said he expected it some time in the summer of 2020.
“In order to reach an agreement with Denison and Gainesville, even if we have to give up a little bit to move things forward, we are OK with that,” Plyler said.
Sherman plans to use the funds to offset the impact of a recent property tax increase by lowering the monthly solid waste collection fees.
Denison Mayor Janet Gott said due to the variable nature of the funding, the TASWA distribution will never be something the city can budget around. Based on a $1 million estimate, Gott said the city could see a windfall of about $310,000. As such, the city is treating it was found money that it will likely use toward one-time capital expenses and projects that “benefit the entire community.”
“We will really have no idea until the end of the fiscal year what is available,” she said.