Last year was the second consecutive year a record was set for the tire shredding business at the Henry County Landfill, with the transfer station also posting high numbers, and the county’s solid waste coordinator announced his intent to retire later this year.

Henry County Solid Waste Coordinator Mike Imbrock reported 145,200 tires were processed in 2021, which is 335 tons more than 2020 and almost double the tonnage from 2019. The transfer station brought in 2,259.91 tons of solid waste in 2019, only 37.55 tons less than current record year (2020) that had 2,297.46 tons.

Revenue for 2021 for the landfill exceeded the budget projections at 128.51%, led by the income from the tire shredding. More revenue than anticipated also came in through miscellaneous items, which Imbrock said includes mattress fees and by cashing in metals that were separated out. Expenses for 2021 also exceeded the budget at 113.24%, although Imbrock said that includes the wages of an additional employee that was hired mid-year, as well as additional driving expenses.

The landfill fund at the beginning of 2021 was $77,100.98 and ended the year at $146,065.07.

“The numbers are good,” Imbrock said.

The landfill post-closure fund balance increased from $419,387.51 at the beginning of 2021 to $428,885.64 at the end of December. The higher balance is attributed to a $1 per ton increase in the solid waste contract fee that was approved in September 2020. That is designated to the post-closure fund. The post-closure fund is supposed to last 30 years after the closing of a landfill, and the Henry County Landfill closed in 2013.

“That’s sitting very well,” Imbrock said.

The solid waste district fund had a balance of $123,056.01 at the beginning of 2021 and that decreased to $103,812.69 by the end of 2021. Revenues were higher than anticipated due to higher than projected contract fees, higher recycling revenue and a grant. Expenses also exceed the budget but that included $77,336.15 for new equipment. The total for the new equipment was $121,336.15, but a $50,000 grant lowered the local portion.

For 2021, recyclables totaled 383.57 tons throughout the county. The solid waste maintains recycling sites at Malinta, Hamler, Patrick Henry, Deshler, McClure and Napoleon, while Liberty Center maintains its own site. Liberty Center had 44.13 tons, while the district-maintained sites had 339.37 tons. The Napoleon canal basin site brought in 227.71 tons.

Imbrock noted he is still amazed at the volume of the canal basin in Napoleon and said people are still responding well to the sort-and-separate setup at all of the recycling sites. The sites are set up so individuals sort their items by type when dropping them off, and Imbrock said this continues to result in a low amount of contamination — unrecyclable items — being mixed in with the recycling items.

“A year ago, we were landfilling a lot of it,” Imbrock said, adding that was done because of the high amount of contamination.

Henry County Commissioner Glenn Miller noted the fees and rates for the landfill should be evaluated again mid-year to ensure the fund balances don’t fall behind.

Following the update, Imbrock said he read in news reports the employees under the commissioners received a 3% raise for 2022 and questioned why he didn’t receive the pay increase. Miller said he would prefer the matter be discussed in an executive session for compensation of personnel, but said the commissioners had another item on their agenda after the landfill appointment. Imbrock replied the executive session was not necessary and announced he is going to retire at the end of this summer.

“I don’t know if I keep going the way things are going,” Imbrock said, adding this February marks 28 years at the landfill for him. “My workload’s doubled, and we’re doing good, but I’m going to have to make some changes.”

With the recent increase in the tire business, Miller said the commissioners have been wanting to bring in a consultant to look over the tire shredding operations to see if the current business model is working or changes need to be made, as well as the possibility of partnering with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for financial assistance. With needed equipment repairs approaching, Miller said they also hope to automate the process more, which will be substantial investments.

“We’re handling product way too much, which causes physical issues (for employees),” Miller said. “We discussed that and it hasn’t seemed to have gone anywhere, and I know we can automate that process and even automate the sorting.”

Following the meeting, Imbrock confirmed June 30 would be his last day and said he felt he didn’t receive an answer on the pay issue.

“The reason I’m retiring is because I didn’t get a 3% (increase),” he said.

Asked for a comment on Imbrock’s remark regarding his reason for retirement, Miller said he would have preferred to handle the matter privately in an executive session, but would comment since Imbrock is publicly discussing the issue.

“He’s always saying how busy they are, how overworked they are ... and we suggested ways to remedy that,” Miller said, adding those suggestions, such as adjusting the landfill’s hours and automating the tire shredding process, have not been implemented. “He keeps saying it’s our responsibility, but when we suggest anything, he says no. I’ll reiterate, I didn’t want to discuss this publicly, but we were pushed in.”

Miller said the 3% wage increase refers to the maximum amount department heads or elected officials can increase their overall salary line item.

“We suggest a maximum amount ... and how each department makes that amount work is up to each department head or elected official,” Miller said, adding Imbrock requested the commissioners decide the increases for the landfill employees. “This just goes into personnel issues ... I’m not going to discuss.”

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