ACUA unloads debt; gains ownership of landfill in EHT

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EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP –  At the end of the 2012, the Atlantic County Utilities Authority was able to retire more than $28 million in debt it borrowed to build and operate the county’s solid waste disposal system. As a trade-off for the debt forgiveness, the ACUA approved taking ownership of the closed Pinelands Park Landfill located in Egg Harbor Township.

 The early repayment of the debt was made possible by the authority's decision to request from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection that ownership of the landfill site, now the home of McCullough’s Emerald Links Golf Club, be transferred to them and that any excess funds be used to repay debt the authority had accumulated with the NJDEP.

 On Nov 26, the ACUA officially assumed ownership of the landfill from its previous owner, Republic Services, Inc. of Phoenix, Ariz., and the NJDEP.

 "ACUA spent the better part of a year in discussions with NJDEP on the transfer of ownership of PPL and liquidation of excess funds which enabled ACUA to pay down their debt,” said Maria Mento, executive vice president and chief finance officer of ACUA.

 “These funds were originally deposited by Atlantic County users of PPL in the late 1980s and it made perfect sense to use these excess dollars now to pay down ACUA’s total outstanding debt. This agreement allows the Authority to reduce its budget by 8 million dollars a year for the next several years, and provides much needed rate relief to Atlantic County municipalities, businesses and other Atlantic County users of the ACUA landfill,” said Mento. “Without this fix, tip fees could have gone up as much as $30 per ton, which was not an acceptable scenario.”

 In prior years, state government assisted with debt payments related to solid waste for facilities in New Jersey, including ACUA, but the state cut or reduced that assistance significantly over the last few years: this deal with the NJDEP was ACUA's solution to the loss of state assistance.  

 The landfill accepted waste for eight years in the 1980s and was officially closed in 1990. At that time, the ACUA’s solid waste facilities came online and began accepting waste from throughout Atlantic County.

 The total landfill area is approximately 160 acres with a permitted landfill footprint of 134 acres. In 1992, the landfill entered its 30-year post-closure period.
 The landfill contains several lining and cover systems, as well as two stormwater management infiltration ponds, a leachate storage facility and an active landfill gas extraction system, including an enclosed flare. The surface of the landfill was redeveloped into a golf course in 2002 by Egg Harbor Township after working through an agreement with the former owners. The golf course opened on Memorial Day 2002 as McCullough’s Emerald Golf Links.

 The ACUA’s assumption of ownership of the landfill will not change how the golf course has operated over the last 10 years. The township holds a long term lease to build, maintain and operate the golf course that will continue with ownership transfer to the ACUA.

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