Stephens Co. Commission Approves Landfill Closure Change Order

Stephens County will spend up to an additional $137,000 dollars on the final phase of landfill closure at the county landfill.

Tuesday, Stephens County Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve a change order with Fort Lamar Services, LLC up to an amount of just under $137,100 to provide for additional costs associated with Phase III of the landfill closure.

Phase III of the landfill closure includes changing a slope on the property, capping the landfill, doing drainage work, and finishing grassing of the area.

According to Steven Harbin with Harbin Engineering, Fort Lamar Services needs the change order because there is not enough dirt to cover the waste and cap the landfill. Harbin said that is because much more waste than expected had to be moved to meet state requirements about the slope of the property.

Stephens County Commission Chairman Stanley London asked if that could have not been taken into account during the bid process last spring.

“When you proposed the bid, we questioned the bid being as low as it was originally and we were assured that it could be completed for that amount,” said London.

Harbin said that it could not be foreseen because it was hard to know exactly what they would find until crews were on site and work was underway.

He did say the problem is simply not having enough dirt, which he says is the county’s responsibility.

“Had we enough capping material, he would be finished now and we would not be before you,” said Harbin.

The change order will cover the costs of obtaining the dirt from a site near the landfill and completing the Phase III work.

Harbin also said that even with the change order, Fort Lamar Services’ price is $100,000 less than the original bid of the next lowest bidder.

Commissioners asked about the implications of not approving the change order and changing contractors since Fort Lamar could not meet the contract.

Harbin, who advised the county on the bids for Phase III of the landfill closure, said that would cost the county even more money than the change order.

“It is going to cost money to do the bids and it is also going to cost money because a contractor is going to come in and they are going to say, sort of like you dealing with a house builder and building a house and they get part way through and you all have an argument or something and you say ‘I don’t want to you build my house anymore’ and get another contractor and they say ‘I do not know if I can build on his stuff; I do not know if I trust it,” said London. “You may be faced with the same thing here.”

Stephens County Commissioner Dean Scarborough said it is a difficult situation to be in.

“We have been stockpiling dirt for a long time,” said Scarborough. “We were required to be the ones to have the dirt. We thought we had the dirt. We got it from North Georgia Tech and I do not know how many sites we have gotten dirt from over the years. It looks like the problem is we inherited a problem landfill that is still costing money and will probably cost for 40 years.”

Scarborough said he was going to vote against the change order, but changed his mind after going through the figures.

“I understand that you have got extra work to do and that we did not have enough dirt, but it still is a lot of heartburn to spend money when you were not planning on spending it,” he explained.

The lone vote against the change order was London.

County officials have said that once Phase III of the landfill closure is done, the EPD will approve the closure and the landfill, located off of Highway 145 in Stephens County, will move into post-closure monitoring for a number of years.