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County landfill fees are under review

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Fees for the county landfill are under review for a possible increase.

The last time fees were raised to the current $28 per ton and $10 minimum was in January of last year.

The Board of County Commissioners reviewed cost figures for the landfill operation during a work session on Monday. They are anticipating large expense items coming in the future. The $800,000 expenditure from reserves for completion of a new cell liner is money that will need to be replaced in coming years to accommodate the next new cell and liner. That will probably be needed in eight years at current intake volumes, commissioners were told by landfill manager Kevin Hunt.

Comparisons with other West Slope landfills showed Delta County's charge is below the lowest of a range between $30 per ton at Mesa County (expected to increase soon) to $66 per ton at Pitkin County. An analysis of the county's costs pegged them currently at $40.78 per ton.

Adobe Buttes took in approximately 30,000 tons of trash in 2016. If the county's per ton charge were raised to $41 per ton, the additional charge in one year would raise $390,000 in additional income, or $3.21 million over eight years. The $41 figure "is projected to be adequate to provide the necessary revenues to cover any cost increase due to increased landfill use for the foreseeable future," states the cost analysis report.

The landfill projects major yearly expenses of $786,573 for operations; $256,000 for a new cell and expansion; and $200,000 for equipment replacement.

No decision has been made on the landfill fee issue.

Other business dealt with on Monday, Feb. 13, included the following:

• The board convened a special meeting to award a contract for the Escalante bridge replacement project to low bidder G.A. Western Construction. The company is currently replacing the Jay Avenue bridge at Cedaredge. The five bids received ranged from the low of just over $448,000 to a high of more than $823,000. The project has been delayed for a half dozen years for various reasons including the presence of a protected plant species in the vicinity. Commissioners also authorized a notice to the contractor to proceed with the project.

• Final signing of the North Fork Coal Mining Roadless Rule Exemption has been delayed until April. According to county administrator Robbie LeValley, an aide from Senator Michael Bennet's office reported that the new administration in Washington has put uncompleted projects on hold until there is time to review them. It is expected the Roadless Rule will be signed and will not have to endure another period of public comment.

• The county's new director of health, Karen Koenemann, is leaving. She took up her post here only last August. LeValley reports that a replacement is being sought. Koenemann's last day on the job will be Feb. 21.

• The county's master plan rewrite consultant has been asking for more basic information about the county, according to a report to the county commissioners. His recent requests are for dilates on various aspects of the county including well permits, ditches, and roads, LeValley reported.

She also said that he has promised soon to deliver a comprehensive schedule of public input sessions and community meetings that will be conducted during the Master Plan rewrite project. The public sessions will be scheduled between now and May or June, officials have estimated. The rewrite project consultant is RPI of Durango, a firm owned by land use planner Gabe Preston.

• Commissioner Don Suppes reported on state tourism figures discussed at a recent tourism cabinet meeting. According to Suppes' report, information from the state tourism office shows that in 2015, 7 percent of visitors to Colorado were interested in marijuana. In 2016, 4 percent of visitors to the state were interested in marijuana.

Hiking, biking and scenic drives (not skiing) were found to be the most popular activities for state visitors, according to the report -- a result that fits neatly with the county's current initiative to develop a trails master plan.

• The Delta gateway project that envisages a hotel and convention center as the crowning jewel of a Gunnison riverfront development project has run into rough sledding, according to discussion at the county commissioners' work session on Monday. Developers are showing reluctance to invest in the vision when Montrose is already well along with their plans for a similar riverfront corridor attraction for tourists, according to the discussion.

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