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City Approves $18.5 Million Trash Investment

It took two years, but the City of El Paso finally decided trash from commercial businesses will end up at an El Paso landfill.

It’s part of the city’s ‘flow control’ plan to haul all commercial waste to landfills in El Paso County.

City Council representatives approved the move 6-2 and rejected a last minute $2.5 million-a-year offer from Waste Connections. Waste Connections owns both El Paso Disposal and the Camino Real landfill in Sunland Park, New Mexico.

The city will instead take over the service by hauling trash to the Clint landfill and opening up the McCombs landfill.

“Honestly, the residents of El Paso shouldn’t see any difference,” said Ellen Smyth, Director of the city’s Environmental Services Department. “This is about where your trash goes. It will still be picked up at your house. It will still be picked up at your business. Honestly, once it leaves your house, do you care where it goes?”

But dozens of Sunland Park residents said they do care because much of that trash ends up in their backyard.

“You don’t know the smell that we deal with,” said one resident. “More trash means more flies, more rats and more cockroaches.”

The new plan will take effect Sept. 1, 2011 and will use $18.5 million already built into next fiscal year’s budget to get the program off the ground. City leaders say the additional revenue and additional trash it will collect could be reinvested in technology to turn trash into energy.

“As our community grows, we need to look at other options for how we get rid of trash,” said City Rep. Susie Byrd. “We don’t have the volumes to really look at good other alternatives, so this flow control will help us get there.”

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