Rate Hikes Eyed At Chaut. County Landfill
MAYVILLE — The Chautauqua County landfill is looking to raise some of its rates next year, which has prompted one county official to oppose it over concern it may force Dunkirk to raise its tipping fees.
Aaron Gustafson, county landfill manager, appeared at the county Legislature’s Public Facilities Committee meeting last week to discuss its budget.
The landfill is funded by user fees, not taxes, but any changes to its budget must be approved by the county legislature.
He proposed the following increases at the transfer stations:
¯ construction and demolition from $60 to $64 per ton;
¯ municipal solid waste from $42 to $45.
He proposed the following increases at the landfill:
¯ asbestos from $80 to $85 per ton for friable and from $40 to $43 for non-friable;
¯ construction and demolition from $40 to $43 per ton;
¯ municipal solid waste from $30 to $31.
He also proposed the following surcharge fee changes for problematic waste loads:
¯ frozen materials — large load excavation fee $75 to $80 and small load excavation fee from $50 to $53;
¯ excessive liquids from $75 to $80;
¯ uncovered loads from $50, lowering to $10.
Legislator Susan Parker, D-Fredonia, expressed her concern over the $3 municipal solid waste increase for the transfer station, versus the $1 increase at the landfill.
She said she spoke with both Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas and Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist. “They’re concerned about the ramifications of these proposed rate increases for their residents,” Parker said.
Parker added that increasing rates higher for transfer stations compared to the landfill itself seems unfair. “It almost appears that municipalities and county residents and county taxpayers are paying more in a disproportionate amount,” she said.
Gustafson said the reason the transfer station rates are higher than at the landfill itself is because the waste at the transfer stations cost the county more. “It’s a disproportionate cost to me. I have to haul it all the way from the transfer station to the landfill,” he said.
Gustafson added that municipalities that want the lower rate can get it by simply hauling their waste the to Ellery, instead of to their local transfer station. The reason they probably don’t do that is because of the extra cost in fuel and manpower needed. “The cost of people and fuel is so high right now, and then the wear and tear and the cost of prices is so high that it’s just a small percentage that we have to add to meet demand for what we’re providing,” he said.
Gustafson noted the BPU, which services all of Jamestown, brings its waste to the landfill, while Dunkirk brings its waste to the north county transfer station outside of Fredonia. “That’s their choice,” he said.
Gustafson said he reached out to both Dunkirk and Jamestown on Sept. 29 to discuss this proposed increase. “Both parties expressed to me they were thinking about raising their prices anyway, for the same reasons,” he said.
He said by Oct. 13 he finalized the rates and shared them with both cities. BPU officials met with him but Dunkirk did not. “I wish they would have gotten a hold of me a lot sooner if this really is a concern,” he said.
Parker recommended tabling the rates for further discussion between landfill officials and Dunkirk. Her motion was not seconded by any fellow legislators, so that proposal failed.
There was also a long discussion during the committee meeting about lowering the fee for uncovered loads from $50 to $10.
Gustafson noted that by law, all loads brought to the landfill must be covered. That includes trash bags in the back of an open pick-up truck. While most of the commercial haulers have their loads covered, residents may break the law, bringing uncovered loads to the landfill.
Legislator John Davis, R-Frewsburg, said he is concerned that too often residents are hauling trash to the landfill or a transfer station uncovered and some of the waste blows out, littering the streets.
Gustafson said he’s actually hoping the lower rates will help reduce uncovered loads. “We felt reducing it would help us more effectively enforce it. Most people have a $10 bill in their pocket rather than a $50 bill,” he said.
Gustafson said they have the option to refuse uncovered loads, but in that case residents are likely headed back home with an uncovered load, with the potential for more trash to fly out.
He added that next year the landfill is going to do an awareness campaign to let people know to have their loads covered and avoid the $10 fee.
During the vote, Legislators John Hemmer, R-Westfield, Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia, Jay Gould, R-Ashville, and Davis, all voted in favor of the revised rates as proposed. Parker voted against it.
In a separate matter, the Public Facilities Committee voted 3-1 to appoint Michael Sarr and Christine Storer to the newly formed Landfill Commission. Sarr is with the Jamestown BPU and would take the seat for the large municipal customer and Storer, with Storer’s Container Service in Stockton, would take the seat designated for a waste hauler.
Hemmer, Scudder, Gould, and Davis voted in favor, while Parker voted against it.
She did not comment during the committee meeting why she voted no, however last month, when three other people were appointed, she voted against them, stating that she has concerns over this newly
created Landfill Commission and what its role will be.
Both resolutions must still get approval from the full legislature during its meeting Nov. 16.
If Sarr and Storer are appointed by the full legislature, there is still one more person needed for the Landfill Commission. Gustafson said they have invited a person from Bush Industries but have yet to hear a response.