The Saratoga Sun -

10 percent solution

Landfill board increases rates 10 percent to close landfill, open transfer station and repay the state

 


An across-the-board price increase of 10 percent for landfill services is coming due to a vote by the Upper Platte River Solid Waste District (Landfill Board) on Wednesday.

The vote to increase fees came in the midst of the Landfill Board’s third reading and eventual passing of a new budget, one that will include the construction of a new waste transfer station and the closing of the existing landfill. Several board members suggested a new fee tier to encourage the area’s largest trash producers to recycle or otherwise pare down their trash production, or pay a price more reflective of use. The board did not vote on the new fee tiers, but seemed to suggest that such a fee system might be open for discussion in the future.

Fees had to increase as the board looks for ways to meet its financial obligations surrounding the soon-to-be-built transfer station and the closing of the landfill, board member Leroy Stephenson said.

In May, the board received a grant and a no-interest loan from the state of Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board. The loan for $375,000 will have to be repaid over the course of 20 years. One condition of the loan is that up to 100 percent of revenues generated by the board can be used to repay the loan if necessary.

“I know from sitting on this board that we have a commitment to state of Wyoming to repay $375,000,” Stephenson said. “And, the sooner we get it repaid, the sooner we can revisit our rates.”

Board Chairman Randy Raymer agreed with Stephenson, saying that the board had an obligation to construct the new transfer station and close the existing landfill, and that an increase in rates was necessary to make keep those two projects fiscally sustainable. Raymer noted that the $375,000 to the state of Wyoming that must be paid will cost the board about $18,000 per year, and that even more money will be needed to complete the projects.

The discussion of the rate increase led board member Sue Jones to question whether the rate increases were enough. “You have Joseph and Granny paying $22 a month for trash, and the rich guys are paying $200 per month for a lot of trash,” she said. “Is that enough?”

After discussing the issue of large trash producers and the imbalance in fees, several board members suggested the possibility of creating a new fee category to apply to businesses that produce a lot of trash.

“If we have another fee category, I don’t have a problem with that,” Raymer said. “That’s another incentive to make recycling look more cost effective is to create another fee category.” Raymer noted that other municipalities in the state had adopted such fee categories in order to incentivize large trash producers to recycle.

The board took no action on creating a new fee category, but Jones said that the board ought to consider discussing the issue further in future meetings.

The board also passed the annual budget which was designed around the 10 percent fee increase that had previously been passed. Raymer said that despite the fact the board has money in savings, the rate increase was still necessary because all of the money in savings was earmarked to be spent on the board’s obligations to build a transfer station and close the landfill.

The next meeting of the landfill board will be 7 p.m., July 6 at Encampment Library.

 

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