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Published: Wednesday, 7/9/2003

Monroe County delays action on landfill fee hikes

MONROE - Waste haulers in and out of Monroe County may soon be paying more to dump their trash here, but not quite yet, after county commissioners last night tabled for a month a request to increase their tipping fees by 500 percent.

The fees, which haven't changed since they went into effect in 1991, were proposed to increase from 10 cents per cubic yard to 50 cents per cubic yard, and from 30 cents per ton to $1.50 per ton of waste deposited in one of the county's three landfills.

County officials argued that the increase was necessary to keep pace with its increased costs and anticipated that the average family would feel an increase of about a nickel a week if the increase eventually is enacted.

Private contractors collect nearly all trash from Monroe County households and businesses, but about 80 percent of trash put into Monroe County landfills comes from sources outside the county, including trash imported from Toronto.

Commissioners said they wanted more time to study the increase and what effect it might have on the three host townships - Erie, Berlin, and Ash - because of the potential for decreased usage of the local landfills.

Commissioners tabled discussion of the increase until its Aug. 12 meeting.

If the fee increase is ultimately approved, the county's solid waste management plan calls for spending the increased revenue by adding recycling and composting centers, adding additional household hazardous waste collections, and preventing groundwater pollution, county officials said.

The increase did raise the ire of at least one local landfill operator.

Scott Hunter, of Allied Waste, which operates the Rockwood Landfill in Berlin Township, said the increased tipping fee would put his facility at an economic disadvantage and could mean the loss of at least half his business.

“Our business is extremely competitive. Our customers do have options, and their options are not cost prohibitive to explore,” Mr. Hunter said. “This proposal seems more like a tax than a fee.”

But commissioners said that despite Mr. Hunter's competitive concerns the wastes that were filling up local landfills were coming from other places, and the limited space should be reserved for local use.

“I think we as a board have to look at the long haul and what's good for the county,” Commissioner Jerry Oley said. “What do we do when [the landfill space] runs out?

“It seems to me that we've gotten dumped on from many, many people from around this county, and I feel compelled to take care of the people of Monroe County,” he said.



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