ODESSA AMERICAN

WCS bond approved

BY DOUG CARMAN
May 9, 2009 - 8:11PM

Waste Control Specialists will have the help from the county they have asked for, to the tune of a $75 million bond once the paperwork is done. That is, if no one challenges the results.

By a razor-thin three-vote margin, Andrews County voters allowed county commissioners to write WCS the bond so that can expand its hazardous waste facility at the western edge of the county and add a low-level radioactive disposal site there.

Andrews County had 642 votes in favor of issuing Waste Control Specialists the $75 million bond and 639 votes against it.

"I actually thought it would be a bigger number in (our) favor but you can't tell until the votes were done," WCS spokesman Tom Jones told the Odessa American.

Vicki Scott with the Andrews County Clerk's office said someone would have to request a recount before they went ahead with it. Melodye Pryor with No Bonds for Billionaires, who opposed the bond, said they are considering their options.

Meanwhile, Pryor thought the results showed their campaign was effective, since they also expected a wider margin in WCS's favor. She said they could have defeated the bond if it campaigned just a bit longer or if the election was held in November.

"I'm ecstatic! This is three votes, we lost by only three votes," Pryor said. "The truth is finally getting out."

Jones said the expansion will add 75 contractor jobs for the 13 months it would take to expand the facility and 75 permanent jobs there afterward.

For engineer Tom Stalk, it ultimately came to Valhi's financial stability. He said he was "for the WCS," but Valhi reported a $20 million loss in the first quarter of 2009, or 18 cents per share, and Standard and Poor dropped the company's credit rating to CCC in March, according to Standard and Poor's Web site.

"It's simply, those rates are indications of the financial turmoil being experienced by Valhi," said Stalk, who cast a "no" vote on the bond. At the same time, he thought both sides of the debate heavily politicized what he felt should have been just a business decision for the county.

Jones said he hopes the construction will begin in July and end August 2010.

Ballot question as it appeared on the ballot:

Andrews - Special Bond Election

The issuance of bond in the amount of $75 million to acquire real property buildings and other facilities to be used as a solid waste disposal facility to be leased to Waste Control Specialists LLC or one or more of its affiliates in the levy of a tax and payment thereof.

 

>> 1,281 Total Votes.

>> 642 Yes.

>> 639 No.