Curbside fees for trash pickup approved
Summit County residents will need to add $36 to their annual household budget next year. The county has decided to impose a new garbage pickup fee to cover the costs of constructing a new landfill and to reduce the county’s general fund subsidy for current service levels.
Earlier this week, when the council approved its 2016 fee schedule for county services, it included they a new $36 annual trash collection fee and a $3 increase to the landfill tipping fees.
According to staff, the collection revenue and the additional revenue from the increase to the tipping fees will begin to help offset the budget for the solid-waste division, which operates at an annual deficit of $615,000, and transition the county’s solid-waste services into a self-sustaining operation.
"Look at neighboring counties we are the only ones that don’t currently charge anything," said Jaren Scott, the solid waste superintendent. "The landfill is an enterprise fund, but what we collect on the scales puts us at a deficit and we have a huge project coming online in 2017. We are collecting no dollars for collection and the contract with Republic Services is just for paid out of general fund dollars."
The County Council nixed the idea of implementing a $3 per household trash pickup fee during the 2015 budget process. However, the council did approve a $5-per-ton increase in tipping fees and an additional $3 this year. Tipping fees are now $33 per ton with a $10 minimum.
While tipping fees support the county’s landfill, waste collection is supplemented through the general Fund. Tipping fees would need to be raised to $41.20 to support the entire solid waste budget, Scott said.
The household waste fee will be collected county-wide and imposed in 2016. The council considered various amounts for the fees. Scott said $13, in addition to the tipping fee increase, would fully fund waste management.
"We had discussed that and we had talked about some different values as far as where to get going and we talked about phasing that in over a three-year period," Scott said.
The budget for the Three Mile Canyon Landfill was declared an enterprise fund in 2012. The new billing option allows for revenue tracking and the ability to opt into additional programs such as green waste, Scott said.
Matt Leavitt, Summit County finance officer, said the intent of an enterprise fund is to show how much of the costs is covered by fees, however, "a majority of it is being paid for by property taxes."
The annual household fee is expected generate more than $700,000 from 20,000 households. The funds will help support the closure of the Three Mile Landfill and development of a new cell.
The council has not yet determined how to bill the new fee, but has considered including it with the property tax bills or the annual landfill fee notices.
Tom Fisher, Summit County manager, said he expects "there to be some folks that aren’t happy" about the trash collection fee, but emphasized the funds that will be freed up within the General Fund.
"If we want to continue progressing toward meeting the council’s goals of enhancing some of these other areas that are in their strategic plan we are going to have to seek revenue sources for that because they also desire to keep the service levels and so does the public," Fisher said.
"In the solid waste master plan it called for doing these things over time so the council is really looking at the master plan they adopted in the past and beginning to implement it. So this isn’t a brand new concept."
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