The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

May 11, 2013

Council member questions fee, rate

By Samantha Pidde
Herald Staff Writer

CLINTON —

Clinton City Council member Jennifer Graf told the Clinton County Area Solid Waste Agency this week that Clinton is looking for a reduction in either the per-ton tipping fee or the per capita rate at the landfill.

“We (Clinton) cannot sustain what we’re doing now at $44 a ton and $10 a head. I’m telling you that right now,” Graf said.

Director of Operations and Education Brad Seward is hes- itant to reduce either of the rates, but preferred dropping the $10 assessment if he had to pick one. He told the board that the $44 tipping fee was estab- lished in 1993 and the assess- ment was established in 2004.

Graf said the per capita rate was set to help the CCASWA at a time when it was in finan- cial troubles. Now that it is doing better financially, she felt the rates should be re- examined. She added it was crazy to not take another look at a price established 20 years ago. Seward felt it was a “bright shining star” in the county that the agency has not raised the tipping cost in 20 years.

Director Lori Jahn, of Charlotte, felt the reason the agency is doing well is because it planned ahead. She pointed out that at one time, the landfill was not run as well and had to play catch-up to get on the track it is on now. She did not want to see the CCASWA fall behind if its revenue is reduced when large expenses, like the new cell for $1.2 million, are just around the corner.

“As a county, everybody needs to be prepared for the hit we’re going to take when we to have to open a new cell,” Jahn said.

Graf asked how much of an impact would dropping the assessment to $7 per head have. Seward estimated that for the entire county, the agency would lose $150,000 each year. He said if they lost this revenue, single stream recycling and other possible projects would be delayed.

Graf also asked about dropping the tip- ping fee to $25 per ton. Engineer C.J. Lage said the CCASWA would be in the red in two years if they did that.

Seward told the board that Clinton County is the 36th lowest out of 79 coun- ties in Iowa for tipping fees.

He reported that the state’s average tipping fee is $51 and average assessment is $8 per capita. He told the board that Cherokee County has a $41 per ton tipping fee and a $69 assessment and Des Moines County has a $47 tipping fee and $14.43 assess- ment.

Muscatine County charges $60 per ton and $3 per capita, according to Seward.

Graf said she does not care about other counties, but cares about the city of Clinton. She was unwilling to consider raising Clinton resi- dents’ rates, saying they pay enough.

Graf also was con- cerned that several pri- vate haulers pay cheaper tipping rates. She told the board that River City pays $25 per ton, Hensley pays $30 and Camanche Disposal pays $25. Seward said that the communities, which pay $44, receive recy- cling, household haz- ardous material dis- posal for residents and education services. He said CCASWA also takes on the responsi- bility to take part in comprehensive plan- ning.

The city of Clinton receives free yard waste in exchange for the leachate. Graf said she was sure that the private haulers were using these services as well.

Seward said the lower price for private haulers is the “carrot to keep businesses coming to your town.” He said that unless the communities establish a flow control resolu- tion mandating every- one to use the facility, they have to worry about private haulers taking their business to other landfills.

Lage said that with- out these private con- tracts, the agency would not be in the good shape it is in now. Seward estimated that these contracts account for approxi- mately 4,000 to 5,000 tons of waste. He said this brings in approxi- mately $100,000 in revenue.

The board agreed to look at Lage’s 10-year plan and go over the possible repercussions of lowering the rates. The matter will be dis- cussed at the June meeting.