Loudon County Solid
Waste Disposal Commission criticized
Group warned to watch spending
Hugh G. Willett knoxnews.com
LOUDON — The Loudon County Solid Waste Disposal Commission
needs to watch its spending, particularly on legal expenses,
County Trustee Chip Miller told members of the panel Tuesday.
“Start cleaning up your own house,” Miller said.
Instead of trying to invest its way out of a projected shortfall
in closing costs for the Matlock Bend Landfill, commissioners
should look at how much it is spending. “You can start with your
budget,” said Miller, who attended the meeting to discuss
investment options for the funds needed to close the landfill.
He said he was surprised to learn that a recent lunch meeting
sponsored by the Solid Waste Disposal Commission cost thousands
of dollars in legal fees alone.
According to the legal billing records, between 2007 and 2012
the commission paid about $249,212 in legal expenses to the
Knoxville law firm of Kennerly Montgomery and Finley. During the
same period, the landfill’s closure/post-closure fund balance
has remained flat, records show.
In July, legal billings to the waste commission totaled about
$7,448, which includes $1,247 for a lunch meeting between waste
commission Chairman Steve Field and commissioners, attorney
Kevin Stevens, county Mayor Estelle Herron, Miller and county
attorney Robert Bowman. The amount did not include Bowman’s
legal billings or the cost of the lunch. Legal billings for the
year total about $53,700.
Loudon activist Pat Hunter criticized commissioners for
excessive legal spending. She said that of all the county
government meetings she attends, the waste commission is the
only body that has an attorney attending every meeting.
Field said he agreed with Hunter about looking at legal
Kevin Stevens, attorney for the commission, said recent billings
have been high for several reasons, one of which is the
commission is trying to renegotiate a contract with Santek, the
company that manages the landfill. Stevens also has had to
address issues such as the death of cattle on a farm near the
A recent audit confirmed that the commission has not been
accruing enough funds to close the landfill. The long-term
investment fund sits at about $1.5 million. Closure estimates
range from about $8 million to $10 million. The commission is
looking to invest closure funds for a higher rate of return.
Miller said that he was against investing landfill closure funds
for a period longer than two years.
Commissioner Bill Waldrop questioned Miller about the
possibility of investing funds for as long five years. A
certificate of deposit for five years will pay twice the
interest of a two-year CD, he said.
Miller said he believes interest rates may rise in the next year
and cautioned against investments of longer than two years.
According Blake Fontenay, spokesperson for the state
comptroller’s office, the county may make investments with
longer maturities if various restrictions set out in state law