Landfill to bring windfall

Published 12:22 pm Thursday, February 4, 2021

A study released last month by Green Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility estimates the landfill, proposed to be located in Cumberland County, would provide an economic boost of more than $74 million to the county over the course of the project’s lifetime.

The study, conducted by Magnum Economics, said direct payments to the county will total approximately $74.5 million over the 30-year life of the facility, averaging approximately $2.5 million each year.

This figure, according to the study, represents approximately one-fifth of the county’s entire revenue from local sources and 64% of total local school funding.

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Officials say in the release that the recycling and disposal facility is slated to pay Cumberland County $68.1 million over the 30-year period in host fees alone.

The county will also receive an additional $3.75 million or $125,000 per year for reimbursement for the landfill monitor employee and $25,000 per year in funding for a recycling education program for Cumberland County Public Schools (CuCPS). Green Ridge will pay heavy machinery and equipment taxes averaging $86,845 per year.

The funding, according to the study, would represent a 19% increase in local revenue for Cumberland and could allow the county to increase its education budget from local revenue by 64%.

On Wednesday, Feb. 3, CuCPS Superintendent Dr. Chip Jones said any additional funding that may become available as a result of the project could be used by the school division to provide instructional and extracurricular activities, ensure a competitive salary and benefits package for staff and fund capital improvements.

During the initial phase of construction, according to the release, the landfill will support 92 new jobs in Cumberland — 78 jobs directly associated with construction and 14 jobs created by indirect and induced economic activity.

Ongoing operations and cell expansion at the facility, the release states, will support 34 full-time employees and 17 jobs through indirect and induced economic activity in the county.

During the initial construction phases, Green Ridge is predicted to generate nearly $5 million in wages in Cumberland County and $9 million in wages in Virginia.

Ongoing operations and cell expansion construction at the landfill will generate nearly $4 million in wages.

Tuesday, Feb. 2, County Administrator Don Unmussig said he did not find any inaccuracies in the numbers represented in Green Ridge’s press release.

However, the landfill has been the subject of controversy in Cumberland, with heavy opposition stemming from the county’s Cumberland County Landfill Alert (CCLA) committee.

On Wednesday, CCLA spokesperson Betty Myers said the group viewed Magnum’s projections to be “misleading and overly optimistic,” adding that the committee found some assumptions of the model to be questionable, including the extent of industrial infrastructure in Cumberland County and the expected salaries of landfill workers.

“Further, the report only addresses economic gains and does not address likely economic losses stemming from key issues such as destruction of the environment, which can affect so many areas, including income generation,” Myers said. “Finally, the report is paid for by Green Ridge, so (it) should not be taken as unbiased. Therefore, it is prudent to approach this report with skepticism.”

Some members of the county’s Board of Supervisors expressed approval of the facility.

Brian Stanley, board chairman and district 1 supervisor of the Cumberland County Board of Supervisors, was quoted in the release as saying the project will be a new revenue generator for the county “and play a significant role in helping the county to keep its property tax rate low while increasing funding for key county services, such as schools, police and fire services, streets, the library and other priorities of the county.”

Board Vice Chair and District 3 Supervisor Eurika Tyree said the project would be critical to the county’s future.

“For years we have struggled to create good-paying jobs and fund key services and projects that our citizens desperately need,” she was quoted in the release as saying. “This will allow us to consider long-neglected priorities and do so in a way that doesn’t increase the tax burden on county residents.”

“I’ve seen how a project like this can give a community the economic boost that it needs,” Jerry Cifor, manager of Green Ridge, said. “We are committed to Cumberland County and know that success for Green Ridge also means success for the county. The jobs created will be good-paying positions with benefits and will allow many to work in their home county rather than having to drive to Richmond or the surrounding area for employment.”