The Davis County Solid Waste Management District is wrestling with how to pay for what may be more than $20 million in pollution-control improvements because of more unfunded federal mandates.

"When you think of unfunded mandates, think of us," said Robert W. Arbuckle, board chairman of the burn plant/landfill, " `cause we're in the middle of it."Arbuckle said even though the county has been maximizing the facility's revenues since taking it over from a private company, it keeps getting hit with more expensive federal regulations on air emissions and ash disposal.

He also said the district is already tied down with a $50 million bond to pay off the facility.

"There just isn't a good way to get out of this $50 million bond," Arbuckle said.

H. Kay Chandler, board member from Clearfield, said that's especially true when you have to add $20 million to $30 million to that figure because of more pollution controls.

Plant manager Jack Schmidt said there are still a lot of unknowns with these federal mandates because the EPA hasn't released details, but he expects them all to be expensive.

"I'm about out of ideas," Schmidt said about revenue-enhancing programs and cost-cutting moves.

The district earned almost $1 million in revenues last month, with $775,557 coming from tipping fees and most of the rest from steam sales to Hill Air Force Base.

"These are some big issues," Arbuckle said. "The key is not to raise tipping fees."

Arbuckle wants to create a special subcommittee from the administrative control board to study the federal mandates and propose ideas on how to fund them. He said the new committee also might use various experts from outside the board for assistance.

"We're talking about a complete new air-control system," he said.

Some of the new pollution-control mandates kick in next September. The district would need a construction permit for the necessary improvements within a year and would have five years to comply with all requirements.



Mounting costs

Some pollution-control improvements and estimated costs the burn plant/landfill may need because of stricter federal rules:

- A scrubber and bag house to control air emissions. Cost: $7.5 million or more.

- Ash testing and special new landfill cell. Cost $3.5 million.

- Creation of a new post-closure maintenance fund for the old landfill cell. Cost $800,000 each year for the next five years.

- Closure of the old landfill cell and stricter control of a new cell. Cost: $3.5 million for phase one; $4 million more by the year 2000; another $5 million by 2005.