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City OKs permit for Pratt transfer station

CONYERS -- The City Council last week approved a special use permit that will allow Pratt Industries to operate a solid waste transfer station as an additional use for property owned by Pratt on Sarasota Parkway.

The special-use permit, approved unanimously last Wednesday by the council, clears the way for Pratt to construct a municipal waste transfer station that it will operate and a material recovery facility (MRF). Recovered materials from both facilities will be sorted and gasified to generate energy through Pratt's clean energy program. The energy is used to fuel Pratt's papermaking operations.

In addition to the special-use permit approved Wednesday, Pratt officials held a public hearing at the City Council meeting regarding its request for a solid waste handling permit from the state Environmental Protection Division. The hearing will go into the record for EPD to review as part of the permitting process for the MRF.

The transfer station is part of a 10-year contract agreement reached between Pratt and the city in May for Pratt to take over the city's residential and commercial solid waste pickup. Pratt is scheduled to take over the service in June. The MRF is expected to be operational within 28 months of Pratt taking over the collection service and will create 50 new jobs.

Under the contract with Pratt, the city's residential and commercial customers will see no increase in fees or changes in service.

Brad Sutton, director of Public Works, said previously the project was designed to provide the same or better service to residents at the same cost while opening a new revenue stream for the city.

"We don't foresee the residents getting any rate increases for up to 10 years," Sutton said earlier, "so their rates will not change."

In addition to the 50 jobs that will be created by Pratt's MRF facility, Pratt has agreed to hire all seven of the city's sanitation workers whose jobs would be affected by the contract. Pratt will match salaries and benefits currently paid by the city, or allow the workers to opt into Pratt's incentive program.

Sutton said outsourcing the city's sanitation service became an attractive option due to the increasing costs for equipment, tipping fees and fuel. The city currently takes its solid waste to a landfill near Griffin.

Pratt will pay the city $4 per ton for refuse received at both the transfer station and the MRF, or a minimum of $15,000 per month.

Pratt has also agreed to purchase the city's sanitation equipment for a total of $444,600.

Pratt will operate on the same collection routes and schedules currently run by the city for the first six months of operations. After that time, any route changes will have to be determined to be more efficient before they can be implemented. Residential and commercial customers will continue to be billed by the city.

The city will continue to collect brush, leaves and metals.

As part of the agreement, the city will install a traffic signal at the intersection of Sigman Road, Sarasota Business Parkway and East Park Drive at no cost to Pratt. The signal installation is expected to cost the city about $500,000, including turn lanes and improvements to the intersection. Sutton said that project was already in the works and will be funded through SPLOST revenues.