County officials and commercial trash haulers met last week to discuss the impact of a big increase in tipping fees under review for Adobe Buttes landfill.
Three commercial haulers and two county municipal governments that provide trash service told commissioners and county staff that the increases will be too big for their customers to swallow all at once. Hiking the commercial tipping fee as proposed from $28 per ton to $41 per ton will cost them customers, they said. They asked for a smaller increase, a phased-in increase, and/or a delay in any increase.
A no-fee-increase proposal was not part of the discussion as the county says the need for an increase is in the numbers. Some of the haulers said they are still feeling the effects of the county increase a year ago, which was only $3 per ton -- far less than the $13 per ton increase that is said required to meet the landfill's future expansion, equipment and regulatory compliance needs.
The private hauler "minimum" charge was doubled last year from $5 to $10. There is no plan to increase that fee this time, but the amount of load allowed for $10 will change depending on how much rates increase.
For example, the $10 minimum charge allows for up to 700 pounds of waste to enter the landfill. If the commercial charge goes to $41 per ton, the $10 minimum will correspondingly allow only 500 pounds to enter the landfill -- an equivalent of a 30 percent price increase.
Adobe Buttes' charges apply to loads deposited at the North Fork transfer station as well.
County officials note that Adobe Buttes fees are already the lowest in the region with other county landfill charges as high as $60 per ton. Costs of operating the landfill are dictated by state regulations and expenses vary little from location to location, noted Kevin Hunt, landfill manager.
Still, according to the county, charges at Adobe Buttes have been a good deal and have stayed low for a long time. In 1993 when Adobe Buttes was opened the charge was equivalent to about $24 per ton, estimated on a volume basis.
County officials said they would sharpen their pencils to see if the $13 increase can be modified.
For now, the fees of $28 per ton and $10 minimum remain in effect.
The commercial haulers and the municipal representatives said they appreciated the chance to sit down face-to-face with the county for a discussion of the issues.