The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

November 15, 2013

Landfill rate proposal fails

By Samantha Pidde Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — A proposal to cut landfill per capita rates in half failed Thursday by seven votes.

During the monthly Clinton County Area Solid Waste Agency meeting, Clinton representative Jennifer Graf once again requested that the per person rate be lowered. For the past six months, she has addressed current costs to Clinton and the other communities, offering several different proposals. Having lost the recent council election, Graf made one last attempt to reduce the rates before her term ends, proposing that the yearly per person stipend be reduced from $10 to $5.

"When the community seated around this table agreed several years ago to increase our stipend to $10 per person, it was not meant to be forever," Graf said. "It was meant to help a condition that this landfill faced itself with, that was revenue deficit."

However, even with the city of Clinton having 27 votes on the board, Graf was unable to get the two-thirds super majority needed to change the rate amount. Of the 10 representatives present, the weighted votes came out to 53, breaking down to: Clinton with 27; Clinton County with nine; DeWitt with six; Camanche with five; Andover, Charlotte, Delmar, Grand Mound, Lost Nation and Welton with one each.

A total of 35 votes were needed for a super majority to pass the rate reduction. With Graf and Lost Nation Mayor Jim Schroeder as the only ones supporting this proposal, it received 28 "yes" votes, seven less than needed.

County Attorney Mike Wolf, acting on the behalf of the Board of Supervisors in its absence, raised a point of order concerning Graf even proposing such a reduction. He said that he was not sure if Graf, as a lone councilwoman, had the authority to make this type of budgeting proposal. He added this is something the council itself should direct.

"And there is no order here. There is no resolution. There's no motion. There's no motion here that would provide the authority for the city to submit such a change," Wolf said. "When you're doing something where you're going to have such an impact on the overall budget, then I think you're going to have to prove that you have the budgeting authority by your city's legitimate resolution or motion."

Graf disagreed with Wolf, adding the Clinton's city attorney agreed with her that by the authority of her appointment, she is eligible to support such a reduction. She told her area communities that as they all need to tighten their belts, so does the landfill.

"And I would urge you rationally to think about the cities you represent and take a motion on this," Graf said.

Director of Operations and Education Brad Seward said the funds raised by this fee are used for closure costs, as well as building new cells. He said building a new cell cost double what it used to.

"At what point do you exhaust your reserves?" Seward said. He said that according to the 10-year plan, the $10 rate is needed to keep the agency out of the red.

Wolf suggested that instead of rushing into a decision, Schroeder (who has not attended a meeting in the past year or more) and other community representatives discuss the topic as an agenda item with their councils. Graf pointed out that the issue has been on the CCASWA agenda for six months.

With the failure of the proposal, Schroeder said he will have Seward come and talk to his council about the rates.