City council members have approved a contract for plans to “vertically expand” two overfilled cells at the city landfill.

The Del Rio City Council during its Oct. 3 meeting voted unanimously to approve an ordinance authorizing City Manager Matt Wojnowski to award a professional services contract to the San Antonio firm of CP&Y to prepare plans and specifications for the vertical expansion of Cells 3 and 4 at the landfill.

“Cells 3 and 4 of the city landfill were overfilled with refuse and earthen cover by the city’s contractor, Red River, with city oversight; thereby, exceeding the landfill’s permit issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and causing the landfill to now be non-compliant with that permit,” City Public Works Director Craig Cook told council members in a memo providing background on the need for the contract.

Councilman Jim De Reus made the motion to approve the ordinance, with Mayor Bruno “Ralphy” Lozano giving the second.

“We’ve talked about this several times in the budget discussion. This is the piece of work to correct the overfilling of Cells 3 and 4 (at the city landfill). This is funded by a CO (certificate of obligation) of a couple years ago that has about $1.4 million in its balance,” Cook told the council at the start of the discussion.

Councilwoman Diana Bejarano Salgado asked if Red River Waste Solutions, the contractor that operates the city’s landfill, “would be equally responsible in the overfills.”

“Hopefully no one’s going to get fined, but since there is that risk, I just want to make to make sure that they pay their share of whatever fine there is, if any,” Salgado said.

“There is a provision in the contract, if a fine is assessed, from their performance, that they pay that fine. It was asked by council three or four meetings ago, why Red River isn’t paying the whole thing for these two applications that CP&Y will prepare under this contract, and the answer to that is, we have oversight responsibility of everything Red River does at the landfill, and we were there. We were doing our oversight and still let it happen, so there is some joint responsibility, and the contract does not provide for splitting the amount or anything like that,” Cook said.

“Because we were jointly involved with it, we have no recourse for them to pay this, but there is a contract clause to have them pay any fine. Hopefully, CP&Y can get this first temporary authorization request processed and approved and that will kind of ‘stop the clock,’ if you will, and then the second follow-on approval will allow us to leave it as it is,” he added.

Cook told the council “time is of the essence” to get to two forms submitted to TCEQ so no fine will be levied.

When there were no further questions regarding the ordinance, the council voted unanimously to approve the measure.

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