Public hearing on tippage fees at landfill draws discussion from county mayors
A public hearing was held by the Emery County Commissioners to hear input on the tippage fees at the Emery County landfill. Commissioner James Nelson has been researching the issue. The county has an ordinance on the books right now for a $15 fee which isn't being enforced. The new draft proposal states citizens can dump up to 1,000 pounds without a fee. Contractors fee would be $10 per ton. "It's expensive to run the landfill," said Commissioner Nelson.
The meeting was opened to public comments. Green River Mayor Pat Brady said they have a transfer station in Green River with rolloff dumpsters. They are opposed to Green River being charged because county residents can dump for free up to 1,000 pounds. Because of the distance involved, Green River residents take their trash to the transfer stations. Mayor Brady asked the county to reconsider and to continue to allow the transfer station to dump for free. If the transfer station had to be eliminated the city would see an increase in illegal dumping. City Sanitation dumps the resident garbage cans on Mondays and takes care of the roll offs when they are full.
Wade Williams from City Sanitation said most of the communities in Emery County have roll off dumpsters. Castle Dale eliminated their dumpsters because they were told they would have to separate the garbage. Because of their proximity to the landfill they decided to eliminate the dumpsters.
Emery, Elmo and Huntington separate the metal.
Mayor Joann Behling from Ferron said there is a concern in charging for the rolloffs. Their city couldn't keep the roll offs if there was a fee involved for dumping them. Ferron likes to provide that service for their citizens.
Williams said they would have to consider raising residential fees $1 per can per month if the fees are implemented. It's a lot harder to figure out the increases in the commercial fees said Williams. Customers have different size roll offs. He said they have three types of trucks including residential, dumpster trucks with the lift to dump the dumpster and trucks for hauling the roll offs. He said things have been inconsistent at the landfill. Sometimes they are charged for dumping and sometimes they aren't. If new fees are going to be implemented, they need time to contact their customers to let them know.
Mayor Peacock suggested raising money to help the landfill work by raising taxes. Then the centrally assessed properties would help pay. If the county raises taxes, then it won't be put onto the cities. The citizens will be upset by any raise in their fees. Then the city councils will be to blame.
Dixie Thompson, Castle Dale city council said the county should look at raising the taxes. "Don't make the cities the fall guy," said Thompson. Fee increases are especially hard on those with fixed incomes.
Trent Jackson from Ferron City wondered how the county would address illegal dumping that will show up if the dumpsters are eliminated.
Williams wondered if every load is free for the first 1,000 pounds. Commissioner Nelson said contractors pay on a tonnage basis.
Williams requested they be allowed to bring in the garbage from the municipalities for free.
Commissioner Ethan Migliori said there has been some good discussion which will help the commissioners make a better decision. He hopes for a conclusion where everyone can win. The plans being made are for the longevity of the landfill. The county doesn't want to see resumed dumping on the desert. He suggested the draft plan see some revisions and then try again. The next meeting with the mayors is in January and the issue will be discussed there.
Mayor elect for Castle Dale, Danny VanWagoner requested the county look at raising the tax for the landfill and to look at other avenues for funding.
Commissioner Migliori said the county can look at truth in taxation and a centrally assessed tax although not perfect it might be better.
County Clerk/Auditor Brenda Tuttle said that Emery County is at the maximum that it can tax. The county is already maxed out and can't raise taxes, unless there is a special concession for landfills. Commissioner Migliori said this is a draft document only. The county will look at whether raising taxes is a possibility.
Commissioner Jeff Horrocks said Commissioner Nelson has done a lot of research into the matter. The county is looking for a solution that is right for everyone. The county needs to come up with funding for the landfill.
Mayor Peacock said Huntington has done a good job monitoring their trash roll offs. This increase will hurt their town as well. As the county examines the ordinance to make it more equitable to all towns he reminded them to keep Castle Dale in mind. Castle Dale donated a share of water when the landfill was expanded. "Whatever happens, whatever solutions, make sure citizens know this is coming from the county. So the cities don't take the blame," said Mayor Peacock.
The landfill goes in the hole several thousand dollars a month.
Commissioner Nelson said the landfill must meet very stringent guidelines and they do a good job at obeying all the rules.
Commissioner Migliori said a lot of good ideas have come out of the public hearing. The county seeks solutions to the problems. They are trying to do something and needed to start somewhere. They will discuss the issue with the mayors and come up with a new proposal to bring back for review. Commissioner Nelson said there isn't a hurry and it should be done right. They have been working on it since May 7.
Commissioner Horrocks said it isn't a new issue and something needs to be done.
Commissioner Nelson later sent the Emery County Progress an email where he commented further, "The landfill is a money pit. The 2014 Emery County Budget lists the landfill expense at $258,900 after a cut of $34,000 from last year. That's $21,575 per month. When there is a large repair bill, it comes out of the county road budget. Then the road department is crushed for money they desperately need. The chip/seal schedule for a paved road should be about seven years. Our chip/seal money is now so short it approaches 20 years. Without change, those roads will disintegrate and could very well go back to gravel. The county cannot operate a landfill without equipment and more capital. The question is how can it be funded?"