Landfill use fees to see increase

Drop in property tax revenue leaves shortfall in dump budget

County officials are considering a plan that could increase revenue at the Moffat County Landfill to the tune of more than $40,000 this year.

But landfill users will have to dig a bit deeper in their wallets if officials move forward with the plan.

At a Moffat County commissioners meeting this week, Moffat County Landfill Manager Eric Johnson advised the commissioners to increase fees.

"This year we don't have any property taxes so we're down 50 percent," Johnson said of landfill revenues. "If the direction we want to look at going is operating the landfill as an enterprise fund, the fees will have to go up gradually."

That gradual increase would likely start later this winter, with proposed fees for residents going up from $16 a ton to $20 a ton.

He also advised the commissioners to raise minimum fees for residents, which are loads of 300 pounds and less, to $5 -- up from $2.50.

But Commissioners Les Hampton and T. Wright Dickinson, who was serving his final day in office, said they thought the minimum fee increase was too steep, and advised Johnson to consider a $3.50 minimum charge.

Fees for non-residents will be increased from $37 a ton to $45 a ton, with a minimum fee increase from $5 to $10.

Moffat County Director of Administrative Services Deb Murray explained the need to increase fees for landfill usage.

Property taxes had been used to fund the landfill but those numbers have steadily decreased in recent years, she said.

Last year, $161,000 in tax dollars was put toward the landfill, compared to the more than $300,000 allocated the year before.

This year, the landfill received no property tax dollars.

"In the past, we have put money into the landfill but last year we cut it in half and this year we didn't put any in," she said. "If we don't increase the fees, we will have to put it back on the taxpayers."

Murray provided her philosophical reasoning for shifting the cost burden from tax dollars to users. Basically, those who use it should pay for it, she said.

"People should pay as they use the landfill instead of using tax dollars," she said.

Murray and those in the commissioner meeting this week agreed that rates at the Moffat County Landfill are still about the cheapest around, which was the reasoning for the proposed steep rate increase for out-of-county users, Johnson said.

"We're taking better care of local residents by deterring use by non-residents taking up room in our landfill," he said.

Dickinson agreed.

"We can't prevent folks from using our landfill but we need to make sure the fees aren't as such that there's an incentive to bring in loads," Dickinson said.

The proposed increase will impact the city's budget, which uses the landfill to dump city waste, to a tune of about $33,000 a year, Johnson estimated.

Randy Call, director of the Craig Road and Bridge Department, said the fee increases under consideration was news to him.

The city has not budgeted for the increase, he said.

"We haven't heard a thing," he said. "They probably won't tell us about it until after they do it."

The commissioners said they would discuss the issue further in a Jan. 31 public meeting.

And public comment will likely be taken until a Feb. 10 commission meeting, with the goal of implementing the rates in early March.

The proposed rate increase comes on the heals of a solid waste increase at a July 8 commission meeting in which rates were increased from $5 per ton to $10 per ton for residents and from $13 a ton to $20 a ton for out-of-county residents.

Solid waste includes sludge from wastewater treatment, concrete, car wash sludge, sand or dirt and tree mulch.

Josh Nichols can be reached at 824-7031 or jnichols@craigdailypress.com.

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