Debate has ensued recently over a proposal by Emery County officials to charge a fee for those who use the county’s landfill facility. During the county commission meeting conducted Dec. 17, commissioners listened to public concern regarding the matter.
According to county commissioner JR Nelson, there is a $15 fee on the books that has never been enforced. “I have done a lot of research into this matter,” explained Nelson. “Other landfills are surprised that we are not charging. In fact, most landfill’s average charge is $20 to $21 per ton.”
Commissioners have been looking into the option of charging citizens a fee when a load weighs 1,000 pounds or more. Nelson explained that on average, Emery County Landfill users are delivering loads that are below 500 pounds. “It is expensive to run the landfill,” he explained. “The county has always footed the bill, but now we are asking users to help with the fee.”
Currently, operating costs at the landfill are $15 per ton, which averages out to several thousand dollars per month. In addition, the county’s compactor is in bad shape and may need replaced in the near future.
The proposal to initiate a fee at the county landfill has caught the attention of many city leaders. Mayors from several cities in Emery County attended the commission meeting, each addressing concerns from their towns.
Green River Mayor Pat Brady is worried about being charged for waste gathered at the city’s transfer station. “The city doesn’t want to be charged for other people’s garbage,” he explained to county commissioners. “I request that a charge for trash from the Green River transfer station not be assessed.”
Ferron has a similar transfer station which is a large bin set up for citizens to dump trash in. The city pays for the station to be unloaded regularly. This has city officials concerned that if a landfill fee is assessed, then the cost of maintaining the station will not be feasible for the city.
Castle Dale Mayor Neal Peacock addressed the issue of dump sites appearing if a landfill fee is put into effect. “It is easier for our citizens to visit the dump since it’s located in our city,” he explained. “However, our city is concerned about dump sites popping up.”
Commissioners admit that they fear the same thing. They realize the importance of transfer stations and that the elimination of such a service, plus landfill fees, may lead to improvised dump sites across the county. “We are trying to find a balance between cost and other dilemmas,” explained commissioner Ethan Migliori. “This is a good discussion that opens our eyes to what needs fixed. We need to find something we can all agree on and everyone will be happy with.”
City Sanitation Manager Wade Williams told the commissioners that he wants them to make sure that the money earned from fees goes to maintain the Emery County landfill only. “I want this black and white if approved,” he explained. “I would like to continue to run transfer stations for municipalities. It’s a cleaner way of dumping.”
Several citizens also approached the commissioners during the public discussion to suggest creating a tax to cover landfill costs. “I am shocked you would want to pass this on to citizens,” explained one concerned resident. “The cities will absorb these costs. It should be county wide, not city only. Man up and put a tax county wide.”
Concerned Emery County resident Danny Van Wagoner agreed. “I challenge you to do what Migliori says and look into all options,” he stated. “Don’t focus on fees only. Look at taxation from a fair point of view.”
Commissioner Jeff Horrocks assured that they would look into the matter further before reaching a decision. “We are not close minded,” he stated. “We want to do what’s good for all citizens. It’s not an easy decision that has to be made, but we appreciate the public input.”
Because more questions were raised concerning the proposed landfill fee, commissioners decided it would be best to table the matter. Further research and discussion will be conducted before a decision is reached. “There were some good ideas brought to us that we need to look into,” explained Migliori. “We ask the mayors to bring possible resolutions to us next month for discussion.”