Commissioners discuss increased landfill fees

By Megan Kennedy

July 1, 2014

Preble County residents may face increases in their trash fees according to the Preble County Sanitary Engineer Randy Gilbert and Preble County Commissioners.

Gilbert met with commissioners, Wednesday, June 4, to discuss rate adjustments. An estimated $475,000 in profit will pile in to the landfill, according to an assessment table provided by Gilbert. “Between businesses going out of business and businesses adjusting … to the rates, reducing their container sizes, or their pickup schedules, we’ve essentially lost $160,000 from what was projected in 2012,” said Gilbert. “In setting the rates and in what was anticipated for the money coming into the landfill to operate on, we’re $160,000 below what was anticipated.”

“I’ve noticed that the government’s not very good at projections,” said Commissioner Denise Robertson. “They always project high, which is interesting.”

“When you make a rate change, there is going to be a reaction by your customers,” said Gilbert. “I don’t know if it was anticipated at the time they set these up and built it in, but it doesn’t surprise me that it’s occurred.”

“I like the idea of cutting businesses and giving them the reduction,” said Commissioner Robertson.”I just like the idea of giving businesses a break and getting more money in their pocket to run their business.”

“I understand that, but I’m looking at the difference between $20,000 positive, and the $6,000 negative, and I see a piece of equipment that I can’t buy,” said Gilbert.

“I don’t see this process as … getting you a new piece of equipment,” said Commissioner Robertson.”I don’t see that as the important thing.”

“I see it as operating funds for the plant, though,” said Gilbert. “I was trying to be revenue-neutral to a certain extent, and I agree, $20,000 is an increase, but I was also trying to maintain [inaudible] at the landfill and I wasn’t necessarily looking to do a decrease to the customers at this point in time because we aren’t there yet.”

“But to me, this is a baby step and I think it could go a long way and the businesses having a more positive outlook when they write their bill and it’s a little less,” said Commissioner Robertson. “Whatever makes business easier to do in this county, that’s what I want … This is part of the cost of doing business in Preble County and I would like to see us head in a positive direction of making it better.”

“One reason I’m not necessarily in favor of this, is I did not submit or request for a rate of increase at the Landfill this year,” said Gilbert. “With the hope that with the new rate structure of tipping fees of outside waste would make up the increase revenues required to maintain the level of budgeting process at the Landfill. Until we get there, we don’t know what that’s really going to do.”

Commissioner Robertson said she would like to see how importing trash from outside counties would impact the Landfill’s tonnage rate and stated she would like to see an increase.

“Even if we can bring in outside waste, we’re a good year and a half, two years away from realizing what the benefits are going to be,” said Commissioner Chris Day. “There are a lot of unknowns out there, maybe do some things we didn’t anticipate, just like people adjusting because of the increase where there’s going to be some stuff that hits us … so it’s going to be a work in progress, but we have to get to that point where we get over that hump. We’re slowly climbing up the ladder, but until at least we can get on the top rung, we’re still behind the eight ball.”

“A lot of times I think our landfill, for the future, is where we’re really going to see the benefit because as companies have to haul their waste farther and farther away, and new landfills aren’t being sited, really. We’re going to find the benefit well into the future here,” said Commissioner David Wesler.”I’m fine with going with the recommended rate.”

Day said, “I appreciate what Denise’s point is, I would like to get there too, but I’m very cautious about jumping into that phase at this point.”

Commissioners approved a resolution to set a fixed rate for the Sanitary Landfill. A verbal public records request was completed for the rate adjustment paperwork for the Preble County Commissioners, however, there had been no response at press time.