Home News Local News County bemoans increased costs for trash compactor sites

County bemoans increased costs for trash compactor sites

Robert Corn, chair of the Chaves County Board of Commissioners, is among the county officials who think that the state regulations tied to appropriations for a county construction project drove costs too high. He is shown at a March meeting of the commission. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Chaves County has signed a contract with Waide Construction Inc. to start work on concrete pads for six trash compactors, using $221,910 in state appropriations for the project.

That’s the good news, according to county officials.


What some officials aren’t so happy about it is that the state money came with a lot of stipulations from the New Mexico Environmental Department, so the project has cost more than some elected officials and county staff think it should have.

“This has cost us more than double had we just gone out and done it ourselves,” said Robert Corn, chair of the Chaves County Board of Commissioners.

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The state appropriations went through the New Mexico Environment Department’s Construction Programs Bureau. As a result, the state required many different engineering reports, concrete analyses and soil density analyses for what county leaders describe as basically six-inch-thick slabs of concrete. The pads also are equipped with power and hydraulic lines for the compactors.

Because the cost reached a certain level, the county also was required to pay federal wage rates, said Bill Williams, director of public services for the county.

Due to all the factors involved, the project has required about two years of planning work and each site will cost about $5,000 to $6,000 more than what the county used to be able to build them for, Williams said.

The county previously built two sites for about $3,000 for the pads and $14,000 to $15,000 for the three-phase power supply, he said. Now the slightly larger pads with phase converters for electrical power will cost about $33,333 per site.

“The contract is not dissimilar to what we used for our $15 million (detention center) expansion, but it is for a concrete pad. That’s what is frustrating about the experience,” said Williams.

With the contract ready to go, the county will build one site in Dexter on Miller Road for two compactors and two sites north of Roswell for four compactors. The compactors are for household trash for people living outside the city but within the county. Construction is expected to be finished by the end of June.

“We are really excited that we are able to provide services like this to people throughout the county in all areas,” said Williams. “Unfortunately we have to do it as we have funds, and some of these areas more distant from the population centers are going to suffer because we are unable to use this money as efficiently as we would like to.”

A spokesperson for the New Mexico Environment Department confirmed the appropriations to the county for the project and said the requirements are needed to ensure safety and uphold construction standards.

“NMED’s grant agreements contain requirements to hire professional engineers to complete projects where the practice of engineering is involved,” said Communications Director Allison Majure. “The communities receive copies of these requirements with their grant agreements. This is to ensure projects are completed in a safe manner with sound construction. These requirements reflect industry standards of care for public works contracts. These requirements are used by many funding agencies and public and private entities as the normal approach to planning, design and construction.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.


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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.