Time is nearly up on sludge pact with LASA

At the end of this month, Star Rock's three-year contract to haul and dispose of sludge for the Lancaster Area Sewer Authority was to expire. LASA executive director Mike Kyle said the contract will be bid.

Sunday News Lancaster, PA

December 05, 2000 — Could it be that the Barley family is getting out of the sludge business?

"Things change," said Rob Barley, son of state Rep. John Barley and one of three "administrative members" of Star Rock Farms. The other two are his brother, Tom, and cousin, Abe Jr.

At the end of this month, Star Rock's three-year contract to haul and dispose of sludge for the Lancaster Area Sewer Authority expires. LASA executive director Mike Kyle said the contract will be bid.

"We're going to test the waters," Kyle said. "Hopefully, we'll get a better price."

For years, Star Rock Farms disposed of LASA sludge through contracts that were never bid competitively. That changed in 1997, said Kyle, when the contract was bid for the first time.

Star Rock Farms won that contract, but the rate — a little more than $32 per cubic yard, which has since been raised for inflation — was a third less than what Star Rock had been getting previously.

Star Rock Farms also hauls sludge for Millersville Borough and West Hanover Township, Dauphin County. But Rob Barley admits the sludge business isn't as profitable as it once was.

Star Rock derives much of its income from wheat, corn, soybeans and hay, most of which is used for animal feed. The Barleys also raise cattle, dairy cows and hogs.

Over the past decade, the Barley family has bought considerable chunks of land in southern York County. Rob Barley says there are no imminent plans to buy more — "but you have to keep your options open."

He's doing the same when it comes to the new LASA contract. "We may bid," he said. But maybe not.

"The sludge business isn't as integral a part of our operation as it has been."

© 2000 Sunday News Lancaster, PA. via Bell&Howell Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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