GR trash service still up in the air
As discussion continues about the future of solid waste service in Green River, Mayor Pete Rust said a decision won’t likely come until the spring.
Rust said solid waste is the most talked about topic in regards to the proposed fee increases the city may implement. Solid waste specifically is projected to increase by about $10, the most of any other fee increase, and will experience the greatest change to the service.
The city’s landfill will close, requiring the construction of a solid waste transfer station. The closure comes as the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality shifts to a regional waste management plan, which results in smaller municipal landfills in the state to close. Rust said the city received at $3.5 million grant and a $500,000 loan from the state to pay for the station. Bids received by the city, according to Rust, range between the developer’s estimated cost of $2 million and $4 million.
While the discussion around Green River’s solid waste management isn’t new, as the topic has come up at one time or another, since the 1970s, privatization of the solid waste services has also come up repeatedly during that period. Rust said the city’s rates are more affordable than those paid by residents in Rock Springs, once additional costs such as taxes through Solid Waste District No. 1 and other fees are factored in. However, Rust also said if rates increase the full $10 already proposed, that affordability is lost.
Rust also said privatization isn’t necessarily the answer either, as the consultant hired by the city to look at its fee structures said it isn’t always the most cost effective solution. While a privatized waste management service could introduce efficiencies to maintain profitability, Rust believes those efficiencies may result in a loss of some services being cut. The city offers a number of unique services not available at other cities. Those services include green waste disposal, flatbed trailer service and free access to the landfill. Rust said residents will ultimately have to decide if they want those additional services or not.
Rust said residents have approached council members with concerns about solid waste services. One of those concerns is the impact fee increases would have on residents with lower incomes. Rust said the now-defunct SW-WRAP had a program assisting residents with utility bills, though he is unsure if the program exists elsewhere. Regardless, it’s a program he thinks should be available.
“I believe we need to have an assistance program for economic hardship,” Rust said.
Rust said the council is concerned about the 14 employees in the solid waste department. Rust said he doesn’t think the city would need to initiate layoffs within the division, as estimates of retirement and attrition within the department over the next three years suggest the city will naturally see savings.