Mr. Mayor and Honorable Members of City Council:
Since 2010, Wheelabrator Technologies has been an essential part of the refuse disposal system for the eight localities that comprise the Southeastern Virginia Public Service Authority. In addition to relieving the citizens of southside Hampton Roads of a crushing debt burden, Wheelabrator has contributed in a major way to the Portsmouth city revenue stream and improved the quality of life for our neighbors living in the shadow of the waste-to-energy plant. Just as importantly, their support of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard by producing industrial steam has helped to ensure Portsmouth would remain a viable location for our biggest employer.
Yet, when the SPSA Board evaluated bids for disposal services post-2018, the sunset date for the current regional compact, it chose an unproven contractor proposing a facility based on untested technology. Even were the approach ultimately to prove workable, the disposal methodology would likely undercut a very effective recycling program in our city and in some of our neighboring localities. The implementation plan also necessitates the building of a new Portsmouth transfer station which would remove additional land from our already scarce pool of taxable properties. For the residents of Portsmouth, this looks like a losing proposition from every angle.
According to the posted agenda for the May 10 council meeting, you will be considering a new SPSA Use and Support Agreement to pick up when the present one expires. For all the reasons previously mentioned, we urge you to defer this matter until you have thoroughly vetted the unsolicited proposal from Wheelabrator and explored additional "go-it-alone" options. Since we will remain under obligation to SPSA for better than a year and a half more, we still have time to consider carefully what serves the best interests of our city. Please take the time to deliberate and to allow the public to be fully involved with the deliberations.