Canal Winchester officials fear that efforts by the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio to deal with a projected budget deficit could force the Waste Management company to move from the village, taking 278 jobs with it.

Canal Winchester officials fear that efforts by the Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio to deal with a projected budget deficit could force the Waste Management company to move from the village, taking 278 jobs with it.

"We're not taking this lightly," Mayor Michael Ebert said during a village council meeting May 18. "This is big bucks for Canal Winchester."

The Franklin County landfill earns revenue from tipping fees for each ton of trash hauled to it. Each ton is worth $35.50 to SWACO. A shortfall of 25,000 tons means the landfill is looking to make up $887,500 before the end of the year. SWACO officials, however, are projecting a total revenue shortage of $1.5-million.

To recoup the projected loss in revenue, SWACO trustees approved a plan May 5 that lifts a ban on accepting trash from outside Franklin County at the county landfill and establishes a charge of $36.50 per ton for that trash, according to SWACO executive director Ron Mills.

"We're experiencing a shortfall in trash at the landfill driven by current economic conditions," Mills said.

He said SWACO information from January showed the landfill might fall short by 60,000 tons of waste this year. More recent reports show the expected shortage at 25,000 tons.

Mills said SWACO also is considering other options to increase revenue: a property tax on residents, increasing the tipping fee for haulers from $4 to $6 per ton or forcing private haulers in Franklin County to take a small portion of their trash to the SWACO facility rather than to company-owned landfills.

It is the last option that has Ebert and other Canal Winchester officials worried.

Waste Management owns a transfer station in Canal Winchester. Trash is taken to the village by truck, then transferred to larger trucks and hauled to Waste Management's landfill in Perry County.

If Waste Management is forced to take its trash to the Franklin County landfill, it likely will cease operations at its transfer station in Canal Winchester, said village development director Chris Strayer.

Mills said Waste Management collects about 250,000 tons of trash in Franklin County annually. To make up the 25,000 tons that SWACO needs, all private haulers would be forced to redirect a small portion of their trash to the county landfill.

He said he was unaware that the possible change, if enacted by SWACO, could cause Waste Management to leave Canal Winchester.

"I do find it interesting that Waste Management has decided not to share it with me," he said. "I just have had a hard time understanding how that small of a percentage could justify closure."

Strayer and Ebert said they learned of the situation during a discussion they had with Waste Management officials in early April as part of a routine meeting. Ebert said it was made clear during the meeting that the transfer station could be shut down.

"If SWACO does require Waste Management to haul their waste to the Franklin County landfill, Waste Management could potentially cease operation in Canal Winchester," he said. "If this were to happen, Canal Winchester would then lose income tax revenue from Waste Management's 278 employees, preferential rates to customers and the tonnage fee paid to us -- actions we cannot afford."

He said he and other village staff members have contacted Franklin County and Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission officials to find a way to keep Waste Management in Canal Winchester.

Strayer said he hopes MORPC can find a compromise.

"There's a win-win out there for everybody," he said. "If everybody's got a little skin in the game, there's got to be something we can work out."

Strayer said the village receives about $15,000 monthly in tipping fees from Waste Management's transfer station.

Because the company considers Canal Winchester a "host community," residents need not sort recyclables. They pay $9.63 per month for trash service, which the mayor said is less than half the rate charged in surrounding communities.

If SWACO were to leave, all perks would be lost, the mayor said.

"That's the worst-case scenario," he said. "Hopefully, it never comes to that."

"They've been a great community partner," Strayer added. "We certainly don't want to see them leave town."

ebrooks@thisweeknews.com