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City Council Mulls Solid Waste Fees

By Staff | Oct 16, 2008

Emmetsburg City Council digested information on solid waste disposal increases at their meeting Monday night. It appears that due to regulations from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the rates will go up.

Mayor John Schad reported on a Solid Waste Task Force meeting he and Public Works director Bill Dickey had attended. He told the council that Spencer is being required to set aside funds for closure of the landfill as they fill up, and post closure of the entire landfill when it is totally full. In addition, Spencer is required to have a 25-percent cash reserve in the land enterprise fund.

In a written report to the council, Schad commented, “As a result, Spencer is issuing General Obligation Landfill Improvement Bonds for more than 2.1 million dollars to cover the unanticipated expenses, and has requested additional funds form Palo Alto county, who in turn is looking for more money from the cities.”

Palo Alto County Attorney Peter Hart prepared a new agreement for the cities to sign, amending the original contract and increasing rates for use of the transfer station. The task force voted to adopt the increase dumping fees for the cities.

“Twenty-five years ago, it was cheaper to go to Spirit Lake than to the Graettinger landfill,” Schad told the council. “I don’t know if those things can happen today.”

Bill Dickey noted that fees will be going up in 2011. “We have the cheapest rates than Kossuth County and Dickinson County, and our transfer station is still cheaper than Pocahontas County.”

Schad said he had asked County Attorney Peter Hart for a clarification of differences between the old and new contracts.

“Peter suggested that all the cities take the contract back to their city attorney for interpretation because he, as county attorney and as a member of the task force, was in a conflict of interest on the matter.” Schad said. He added that Emmetsburg had not yet received an opinion from City Attorney Brian Thul.

The proposed modification of the existing agreement calls for Northern Plains Regional Landfill and the Transfer Station increasing fees in 2009, 2010 and 2011 rather than one large increase at the end of the contract. Current, 2008 per-ton fees are $30 for Northern Plains and $33 for the Transfer Station, which will gradually increase to $46.50 for Northern Plains and $49.50 for the Transfer Station. Household waste (drive in) will increase from $50 to $65 per ton.; construction and demolition waste will increase from $50 to $65 per ton.

Dickey told the council that the city is paying a penalty of $1.00 per ton because Emmetsburg has not sufficiently reduced the amount of waste going to the transfer station.

“We’re working toward recycling to get the costs down,” he said. “The task force recommended the raise in rates and hopefully this will get people to recyle.”

Councilman Corey Gramowski noted that it costs more for a business to recycle than to send waste to the transfer station.

Emmetsburg City Council tabled action on the increase in solid waste disposal fees, pending an interpretation from the City Attorney.

In other business, council representatives voted on a request to have the city attorney attend council meetings. Mayor Schad said he worried about liability for the city. He noted, also, that cost to have the city attorney attend meetings would be $100 per hour, with the likelihood of $250 for each meeting.

Council representatives reached a consensus of the city attorney attending one meeting each month on a six month trial basis, then re-evaluate to see if it is cost effective.

Councilmen set Halloween Trick or Treat for Friday, Oct. 31, from 5 to 7:30 p.m.