CHEROKEE — The Solid Waste Disposal Authority of Muscle Shoals, Sheffield and Tuscumbia has approved the purchase of the Cherokee Industrial Landfill and adjoining acreage in Barton.

The agreement has been nearly a year in the making.

The landfill is permitted to accept inert, construction and demolition waste, and provisions are in place to allow for future expansion.

The Solid Waste Disposal Authority will issue approximately $14 million in revenue bonds and $4 million in taxable bonds to finance the purchase, and future development of additional cells. The bonds are expected to have a 30-year term.

The authority will lease the landfill to CWI Cherokee, which, under the terms of the lease, will be responsible for paying the operational costs, debt service on bonds, future development costs and final closure expenses. 

The authority will lease the Shoals Transfer Station. The transfer station will serve as the collection point for all municipal solid waste, including household garbage, for the cities and its customers, including Colbert County.

The waste is currently being transported to a landfill out of state.

The authority will enter an agreement with CWI to dispose of waste during the term of the lease at a rate that is 47% of the current rate at the Cherokee Landfill.

The rate will be good for five years. Afterward, the rate can increase to reflect the Consumer Price Index for the prior year, which allows for the authority to control the costs of waste disposal of the cities and county until 2070.

No increase of rates to residents in Colbert County or its cities is planned.

Authority members said the agreement will benefit existing businesses and industries, and will serve as an added incentive for new ones looking at Colbert County as a possible location.

"The old landfill has been in operation since the 1960s the best we can tell and we had about 15 to 18 months left at that location (off U.S. 43)," said Muscle Shoals Mayor David Bradford. "This just made more sense over the long term."

Bradford said the process of closing the existing landfill can be lengthy, but work to do so will begin as soon as the landfill stops receiving waste. 

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