Friday, April 03, 2009

Burlington Trash Haulers May See Price Increase

With less coming in, waste district proposes 25 percent fee increase

The cost of trash disposal is going up in Burlington, Iowa and possibly in St. Louis County, in large part because people are throwing away less.

Chittenden Solid Waste District is proposing a 25 percent increase in the fee haulers pay for each ton of trash headed for the landfill. The price would rise July 1, from $17.61 a ton to $22.06 a ton.

Each trash hauler will decide whether and how much of the increase to pass along to residential and commercial customers.CSWD’s decision won a quick protest from one hauler, Jeff Myers, president of Myers Containers.

The district estimates the average retail customer would pay $2.50 a year more for trash pickup, if haulers pass along the full increase. A typical business would pay about $33 a year more.

This is the first increase in the regional trash tax since 1993. “For the first time in 16 years, our tonnage has dropped so drastically, we’re going to have to raise the fee,” District General Manager Tom Moreau said.

And why is less trash headed for the landfill? “It’s the recession, there’s no doubt about it,” Moreau said. The district has had some success in recent years in reducing landfill-bound waste, by encouraging recycling. But the sudden drop in landfill tonnage in recent months isn’t the result of more recycling; it’s a byproduct of less business activity and belt-tightening in local households, he speculated.

Recycling returned big profits until last autumn because used paper, plastic and metal commanded high prices in the commodity markets. The recession dropped the bottom out of those markets, so instead of paying haulers to bring recyclables to the Williston sorting center, the district began charging trucks a drop-off fee. Higher charges for landfill-bound waste will lower those fees from $20 a ton to $10 a ton.

“Our intent is to pass that expense along to our customers — we don’t see any other option,” he said. “It is a cost that needs to be borne by the waste generator.”

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