Regretfully, because of the high cost of operating the landfill system and our reserve funds quickly diminishing, it is no longer possible to avoid a tipping fee at the landfill.
The landfill system is the largest user of the general fund reserves. In addition to ongoing operations costs ($2.6 million/year), there are construction projects to deal with leachate disposal ($1.75m) that need to be completed in the 2016 budget year, and a fund to cover the cost of closure and post closure monitoring that needs to be started to stay in compliance with environmental regulations. During budget discussions, some principles have been developed to underpin the fee discussion.
First, fees that are paid will only be used to pay costs of the landfill system. In the 2016 budget a Solid Waste Fund is created as an enterprise fund. Money coming in from fees and being paid out to run the landfill system will be accounted for wholly within that fund. The money we pay to keep the landfill system going cannot be used to fund any other county services.
Second, those using a garbage service and those bringing their own trash to the transfer stations should be charged equally. Right now, if you use a garbage service you are paying the cost of the hauler to pick up your trash and take it to the landfill. Just as with private citizens bringing our trash to transfer stations, commercial haulers don’t pay a fee for putting your trash in the landfill. As we look at setting the fees, being as equal as possible between citizen haulers and commercial haulers is important.
Third, collecting fees must be as simple as possible. We are looking at other counties’ systems. Punch cards and swipe cards are looking like they are the most viable alternative for us. You don’t want to spend a lot of time waiting in line, and having a lot of cash at the transfer stations is a public safety hazard.
Fourth, we are all concerned with illegal dumping. Even now, there is a great deal of trash being dumped on rural private and public lands. That will most likely increase when a fee for household trash is added. We are considering adding a small amount to the fee to pay for a work crew that will focus on illegal dumping cleanup.
Commissioners’ Town Hall budget meetings are scheduled in Myrtle Creek on 6/1 at 6pm at the Community Center; and in Tri City on 6/11 at 6pm at the Veterans Memorial Building. If you know a group that would like a budget presentation, please let me know.
Chris, Tim or I will gladly schedule a visit.
Susan always welcomes your questions or comments. Please contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; by mail at Douglas County Courthouse, Room 217, 1036 SE Douglas, Roseburg, 97470; or by phone at 440-4201.