The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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June 14, 2013

Request to reduce Clinton's costs for landfill use fails

CLINTON —  A request by a Clinton city councilwoman for a decrease in the solid waste per capita rate did not receive enough support to move forward in discussions by the county's solid waste agency board Thursday night.

"I'm just saying why should we potentially slit our throats," said Clinton County Area Solid Waste Agency Chairman Dave Richards about the proposal made by the Clinton representative, Jennifer Graf.

Graf initially asked about reducing either the tipping fee or the per capita rate during the May meeting. She said the city of Clinton could not sustain $44 per ton and $10 per person. She asked for relief on one or the other cost.

"I don't know if you're going to get it," Charlotte representative Lori Jahn said during the Thursday meeting.

Engineer C.J. Lage quickly ran the board through a 10-year financial plan. He highlighted several large projects, such as the construction of a new cell at approximately $1.5 million.

Lage's projections for 2013 at the current rates showed the agency with a deficit of $875,000. If the agency reduced the $10 per capita rate to $3 as Graf proposed, Lage said the deficit would be $5 million instead. He also projected the agency would be in the red next year.

Graf did not insist on the $3 rate. She also suggested $5, $7 and finally $8.

"I feel like an auctioneer," said Graf as she pleaded her case for a $8 rate.

With the recent ADM decision and other issues, Graf said the city is facing some hardships. She said that while a reduction might seem painful, the difference could be what they need to maintain their public work's department.

Other members of the board expressed concerns that lowering the rate would put the agency back in the financial hole it once was in. County representative John Staszewski did not want to jeopardize the financial future for the entire county.

The question of where extra revenue could be found was raised. Camanche representative Trevor Willis said they need to increase tonnage.

"There's no other tonnage to bring in. It's tapped it all," Jahn said.

" People are not increasing their garbage," Staszewski said.

Commercial haulers can contract for a rate of $25 per ton for business garbage if they agree to a minimum guaranteed tonnage. Seward reported interest from Allied Waste for such a contract.

"And I'm saying a hypothetical and this is not a threat. We do have a contract that we can opt out of," Graf said. "And if Clinton opted out of our contract with the landfill, what happens then?"

Seward responded the city would lose all benefits from the agency and would have to manage its own waste. The city would most likely have to haul the waste to Morrison, Ill.

"You're going to have people in the city of Clinton pretty upset when they can't go three blocks down the road to do anything," Seward said.

Staszewski made a motion to reduce the per capita to $8, but withdrew it for further discussion. Following the discussion, no one made the motion.

The matter will remain on the agency's agenda.

 

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