The Saratoga Sun -

Buried in budget

UPRSWDD talks cardboard, closure as fiscal year nears end


April 17, 2019

The Upper Platte River Solid Waste Disposal District (UPRSWDD) talked about a wide variety of subjects during their regularly scheduled meeting on April 3 at the Saratoga Town Hall, but most of the topics came under the umbrella discussion of the annual budget as the next fiscal year quickly approaches. Along with discussion of electrical in the new storage building and approving the advertising for the removal of the old storage building at the Saratoga transfer station, the board also discussed excess fees for “cardboard abusers” and their loan and grant from the State Lands and Investment Board (SLIB) and billing.

Out with the old

With the recent completion of the new storage building closer to the Saratoga transfer station, the UPRSWDD is now in the process of outfitting the structure with proper electrical and had received two bids prior to the April meeting. According to Craig Kopasz, of Engineering Associates, however, one of the contractors that bid the project had withdrawn, leaving only one bid in the total of $19,200.

“He did give me another (bid) just for the light fixtures alone … but there’s about $300 in savings just in light fixtures for each one of them (and) there’s four of them. Just by switching the four light fixtures, it’s a cost savings of about $1,200, but I’d like to look at every line item to make sure if we can go with something different that doesn’t affect electrical codes and things like that,” said Kopasz.

UPRSWDD board chairman Randy Raymer stated his issue with the bid is that it was nearly a quarter of what was spent on constructing the building. Further discussion between Kopasz and the board revealed that, if the board were to purchase the electrical items and then have the contractor install them it would likely lower the cost of the bid.

“I think if you’re going to do that, you need to make that option to anybody that bids,” said Raymer.

Kopasz agreed and said he would approach both contractors that had originally bid the project. Pursuant to Wyoming State Statute 15-1-113(a), any contract for public improvement that is under $35,000 is not required to be publicly advertised.

Along with the electrical installation in the new storage building, the removal of the old storage building was brought up as well. Raymer asked Ron Munson, site operator and owner of Evergreen Disposal, if there was anything critical in the old storage building. Munson stated that there wasn’t and the UPRSWDD board made the decision to advertise for bids to remove the structure.

Cardboard talks

One of the first items discussed in relation the to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019/2020 budget was that of billing to businesses that the board has dubbed “cardboard abusers;” those who have placed their cardboard in dumpsters thereby putting it in with the municipal solid waste. For several months, the board has discussed how to best handle the issue with penalties on billing being the most popular method with the UPRSWDD board.

“There are some of the folks that are producing huge amounts of cardboard and putting it in their dumpster that are probably going to get some corrective action on their monthly billing. I think the cardboard penalties may take care of themselves, or at least that’s my hope,” said Raymer. “My goal is to try and have everyone caught up to speed with corrective billing rates and determine if there are going to be any excess cardboard penalties by the time we go to our new fiscal year the 1st of July.”

Discussion between the board members centered, mostly, around Family Dollar, which has come under scrutiny from the UPRSWDD board due to the placement of their cardboard outside and next to their dumpster. The company currently contracts with Evergreen Disposal who, as a courtesy, will take their cardboard out to the transfer station. According to Munson, conversations on the corporate level of Family Dollar have yielded little results. Board member Schelby Merrill informed the board that the Family Dollar in Saratoga receives two to three shipments per week with at least 1,000 boxes per shipment, but only 10 boxes, filled with cardboard, is taken back by the distributor.

“They’re doing more than most people are, so to fine them ... we just need to be cognizant of everything they are trying to do,” said Merrill. “I think we’re moving towards a common goal and I think the other main piece is understanding exactly how things work to be able to better educate because, literally, the several businesses that I’ve spoken with, there was one thing or another that they had no idea either about or how much it was. They don’t know.”

Closure funds

Following the cardboard discussion, the board was informed by Kopasz that they were on the consent agenda with SLIB for an 85 percent grant, 15 percent loan application for the closure of the Saratoga landfill. According to the April 4 agenda for the most recent SLIB meeting, the application was approved with $1.4 million in closure grant funds and just over $250,000 in loan funds.

“Right now, the cost for the closure is approximately $1.69 million for putting a cap on the top, relocating the road and everything that was in the closure permit. We’re on the consent list for 85 percent grant, 15 percent loan which is very good for us,” said Kopasz.

Discussion between Kopasz and the board revealed that, while the closure application and fund request would be approved for 2019, construction at the Saratoga landfill would not begin until 2020. According to Kopasz, bids from contractors for the closure would likely run high as two contractors he spoke with already had full schedules. Raymer expressed his concern that, due to the high bids, the URPSWDD would have to bid the project, reject the bids due to cost, and then rebid the projects.

“And that’s a discussion I will have with the State (of Wyoming). If we know the costs are going to come in high, then let’s just wait and not bid it twice. Let’s bid it this next fall so contractors can have it on their agenda for the following summer and have good prices,” said Kopasz.

Budgets and fees

Near the end of the meeting, the UPRSWDD board finally got into the bulk of the budget talks with very few changes to the proposed budget for FY 2019/2020 compared to the current fiscal year. Billing contracts with the municipalities will remain the same at $396,000 for Saratoga, $105,600 for Encampment and $52,800 for Riverside. The only change to the budget on first reading was that of the contract with Munson with a three percent increase to contracts with both the Saratoga and Encampment transfer stations. The contract for Saratoga is expected to increase to $236,000 and the contract for Encampment is expected to increase to $72,700.

Following the passage of the budget on first reading, the board discussed rate evaluations and the possibility of centralized billing. According to Raymer and Sue Jones, while billing through Encampment and Riverside has been consistent, billing through the Town of Saratoga has not been as consistent, with some of Jones’ customers not appearing in the municipalities billing for landfill. Additionally, several ranches in the area have up to three different billings from all three municipalities in the district. The board discussed the possibility of one municipality, like Riverside, doing the billing for Silver Spur or Brush Creek instead of three bills being sent out from three different towns.

This eventually led into the discussion of centralized billing. With the previous frustration expressed by the board about inconsistent billing with the Town of Saratoga, Raymer suggested the UPRSWDD purchase a billing program and the board would then contract the system out to an individual or entity. While no action was taken, Raymer asked the other members of the board to consider the centralized billing as the new fiscal year approached.

The next meeting of the UPRSWDD will be at 7 p.m. on May 1 at the Encampment Library.


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