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Gas Prices Latest Factor In Proposed Landfill Decision

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Rising gas prices could play a key role in a controversial decision concerning where to build a new Wake County landfill.

Most of Wake County's city and town leaders believe a landfill in Holly Springs would be much cheaper than hauling trash to a landfill outside of the county over the next 25 years.

  • But leaders said the current spike in gas prices was also playing a factor into the decision.

    "The price of gas has been a rude awakening for all of us, for everything," said Raleigh City Councilwoman Jessie Taliaferro. "So, we need to make sure we keep costs under control."

    Holly Springs Mayor Dick Sears, who has fought to keep the proposed South Wake County landfill out of his town, disagrees with city and town leaders. He worries about liability issues and the weight decision makers may put on gas prices.

    "Obviously gas prices are up now," Sears said. "At the same time, who's to say things (don't) get fixed and prices go down."

    Sears said a developer, just this week, made a $17 million offer on the property that would be used for housing, retail space and a senior center. He also said offers were also pending from two other developers.

    Still, Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen is recommending the property for a county landfill, saying the in-county option is the best option, even before rising gas prices are considered.

    But with development offers on the table and the potential for more sales tax, some Raleigh city leaders want a few more weeks to examine the figures.

    "Certainly, the gas prices make an in-county option more likely, but the city will look at all figures before making a decision," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said.

    Different sources have different estimates on how much money would actually be saved by having the landfill in Wake County. One estimate is for approximately $224 million.

    One county commissioner, however, Kenn Gardner, came out in opposition of the Holly Springs landfill Tuesday after his own analysis, saying the savings "overlooks many short-term assumptions and ignores many long-term problems."

    The North Wake County landfill will close by the end of 2007, so Wake County leaders hopes all cities and town councils will vote on an inter-local agreement by December.

    Ultimately, the Wake County Board of Commissioners makes the decision.