SPSA is a Mess Says Virginia's Auditor

Date: October 18, 2008

Source: News Room

A new special report by Virginia's state auditor says the Southeastern Public Service Authority (SPSA) is adrift, lacking a clear business plan while it faces heavy debt and suffers poor leadership with little public oversight. However, the report found no evidence of wrongdoing or illegal activity. SPSA manages the waste management needs of its eight member municipalities over an area that is larger than the state of Delaware. Political infighting has hampered efforts to deal with mounting debts, plan for future expenses, or deal with out-of-state waste imports. The agency owes about $234 million and will have to pay $314 million including interest by 2018 when its charter expires. Auditors suggest the total could reach nearly $500 million by then. In order to boost revenues, the agency proposed to receive more out-of-state waste, but this led to a lawsuit from one of its members, the city of Chesapeake. Without waste imports, SPSA had to raise its waste handling fees from $57 two years ago to $104 per ton currently. Now it appears that will not be enough and the agency is again proposing to borrow another $21 million this fiscal year, while setting aside less cash than promised.

An especially vocal critic is state Del. John A. Cosgrove, who requested the report and is a former Chesapeake city councilman. He said "that SPSA is a bloated, mismanaged, overly bureaucratic organization that has no chance of reforming itself in its current structure. Anyone who looks at this agency and sees 500 people doing the work of 50 knows that something's not right."

To read the report, visit:

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