Solid Waste Disposal Authority approves purchase of Cherokee Industrial Landfill


COLBERT COUNTY Ala. — Time is ticking to secure a new landfill in the Shoals. The Solid Waste Disposal Authority in Colbert County currently serves the cities of Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia. The Authority, represented by the mayors of the three cities, recently approved the purchase of the Cherokee Industrial Landfill, including some surrounding land in the Barton community.

Tuscumbia Mayor Kerry Underwood said the purchase will help alleviate an issue at the current industrial landfill off Highway 43.

“Our landfill locally is filling up,” he said. “We have a matter of months. I’m going to say 15, 16, 17 months left on our landfill.”

The Authority is looking to finance the project through bonds. They anticipate issuing around $14 million in revenue bonds and $4 million in taxable bonds for the purchase and future development of the landfill.

“We thought it’d be good use of taxpayer money to make that a purchase so that you don’t have two competing landfills in the same county,” said the mayor.

Mayor Underwood said the large amount of land surrounding the site gives the Authority an opportunity to expand if needed. They estimate the lifespan of this landfill to be between 30 and 50 years.

“That’s kind of a legacy thing, saying that we’ve taken care of the needs of the county for that long of a period of time and we’re proud of that,” said the mayor.

The mayor said the industrial landfill is beneficial not only to citizens but also industries that need to properly dispose of materials. Those materials, when not disposed of correctly, can be harmful to the environment.

See below to read the full release from the Solid Waste Disposal Authority.

“The Solid Waste Disposal Authority of the Cities of Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia, Alabama (the “Authority”) approved the purchase of the Cherokee Industrial Landfill and adjourning acreage in Barton, Alabama, collectively “The Landfill”.

The Authority is represented by Mayor David Bradford of Muscle Shoals, Alabama; Mayor Ian Sanford of Sheffield, Alabama; and, Mayor Kerry Underwood of Tuscumbia, Alabama. All the Mayors have been instrumental in bring this agreement to fruition.

The Landfill is permitted and ready to accept waste. There is sufficient land for future expansion which should provide an expected useful life of 30-50 years. The Landfill will serve the Cities of Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia, Alabama and the Authority’s customers, including the Colbert County Commission with a licensed location to dispose of Inert Waste and Construction and Demolition Waste for the next several generations.

The Authority will purchase the Landfill and adjourning property for a price under appraisals. In comparison to finding suitable acreage to provide this length of disposal capability, preparing the land, licensing, and the other costs of developing a landfill, the Authority has made a wise investment.

To finance this project the Authority is seeking financing through the bond market. The Authority anticipates issuing approximately $14 million in revenue bonds and $4 million in taxable bonds to finance the purchase and future development of additional cells for waste disposal in the future. The bonds are expected to have a thirty-year term.

The Authority will lease the Landfill to CWI Cherokee LF, LLC to operate the Landfill. Under the terms of this lease, CWI will be responsible for the costs of the landfill, including: operational costs, debt service on the bonds, future development costs, and final closure. In other words, all the costs of the Landfill will be paid by CWI. In addition to paying for all costs, CWI will make payments under the lease. Those payments are projected to be up to $17.3 million.

The Authority will lease from the Shoals Solid Waste Disposal Authority the Shoals Transfer Station. The Authority will assume the responsibility for the disposal of all Municipal Solid Waste (MSW). The Shoals Transfer Station will continue to serve as the collection point for all MSW, including household garbage, for the Cities and its customers, including Colbert County. All MSW is currently transported under contract to a landfill outside of the State of Alabama. The Authority will sub-lease the Shoals Transfer Station to CWI. CWI will pay for all costs of the operation and maintenance of the transfer station and be responsible for the contracts for MSW disposal. CWI, in addition to paying all costs, will pay lease payments which are projected to be up to $2.85 million.

The Authority on behalf of its Cities, and for the benefit of its customer Colbert County, will enter a Disposal Agreement with CWI to dispose of the Inert Waste and Construction and Demolition Waste during the term of the Lease for a rate of 47% of the current disposal rate at the Cherokee Landfill. This rate will be fixed for the next five years and thereafter only increased by the Consumer Price Index for the prior year. This allows the Authority to control the costs of waste disposal of the Cities and its customer, Colbert County until 2070. In addition, the Disposal Contract locks in a formula which will favorably allow the Authority to control the cost of MSW disposal. MSW disposal is subject to regular price increases by the contractors who have the licensed landfills that can accept MSW. While the Authority cannot control that price, the lease of the transfer station will allow the Authority to control the costs of collection of MSW. Costs are always going up and waste disposal is no exception. With this rate structure, no immediate necessity of increasing the rates the citizens of the Cities of Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia and the citizens of Colbert County pay for the disposal of waste.

This unique public-private partnership offers this opportunity. The Authority has secured continuing waste disposal benefits our residents and businesses at a favorable rate. This agreement will benefit our existing businesses and industry and will serve as an added incentive for businesses and industries to locate in Colbert County, Alabama.

The Authority is pleased to announce this plan to meet the waste disposal needs of the Cities of Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia and of its customer, Colbert County. Costs of waste disposal will be controlled; there will be a new landfill owned by the Authority, with no operational or development cost borne by the Authority; and, the Authority will be paid over $20.1 million for its investment.

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