Archive for Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Solid-waste assessment fee increase proposed for 2011

June 30, 2010

Leavenworth County commissioners tabled discussion on a possible increase to the solid waste fee assessed to county residential properties until they get a clearer picture of the transfer station’s finances.

Mark Wilson, county solid waste management director, presented the commission Monday two options to fund the transfer station’s 2011 operation. The two options were shared with the commission earlier this month during budget hearings.

The first option would keep the county assessment rate for single-family home residential properties at $13.52 a year but raise the net rates on large commercial haulers from $32.13 a ton to $34.41.

The second option would retain the current commercial net rate gate fee of $32.13 a ton. It would also eliminate a higher rate placed on out-of-county trash haulers, which cost the transfer station the business this year of its largest customer, Republic Services. The second option would raise the assessment on single-family homes to $20 a year.

Wilson recommended the second option, fearing raising the gate fees would cause other large haulers to stop using the transfer station. And he said even at the lower rate, the county made money from the commercial haulers.

Mike McDonald, public works director for the city of Leavenworth, endorsed that option and agreed keeping the gate fees low was key to keeping the business of the city and other large haulers.

However, McDonald said he opposed eliminating increased fees for out-of-county haulers because county taxpayers paid for the transfer station and its maintenance.

Wilson countered eliminating the out-of-county fee would allow the county to recapture the business of Republic Services, a firm that was now taking trash it collected in Leavenworth County to a Missouri landfill.

Commissioners saw the wisdom of keeping the gate fee on commercial haulers low because it did produce revenue. But they found the material Wilson provided incomplete.

Commissioner John Flower said the county needed to continue subsidizing its smallest users who pay to get rid of up to five bags of trash and encourage large revenue-producing commercial haulers to use the transfer station. What was missing was a price structure on the “captured market” of intermediate users, he said.

“What’s needed is a simple-to-implement but complicated-to-design pricing scheme,” he said. “I’ll be happy to work with you on that.”

Commissioners agreed to table the discussion until July 15 so that Wilson could bring additional information. At that time, commissioners will establish the 2011 assessment rate.

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