Green River Star -

By David Martin
Editor 

City seeks waste proposals

 


A budget for the upcoming fiscal year was approved Tuesday night and with it, a decision to seek a request for proposals from local solid waste companies to potentially privatize the city’s solid waste division.

The fee schedule approved by the Green River City Council includes fee increases for the solid waste division. Rates for weekly dumping of the 90-gallon residential trash bins was increased from $25.50 a month to $31.50. A charge for a second trash container’s weekly dumping was set at $15.75 a month. However, those fees will not maintain the solid waste fund, or even pay for the transfer station’s completion and equipment.

Without the transfer station project looming overhead, the city would burn through most of the reserves in its solid waste fund.

Currently, $1.25 million is in the fund, but would decrease to $173,787 by the end of June 2018. The fund would be bankrupt by September 2018 in that scenario. With the transfer station added to the issue, the fund cannot cover the completion costs of the station, nor the equipment needed inside.

“We do not have the ability to finish the transfer station or buy equipment,” City Administrator Reed Clevenger said.

The city needs approximately $500,000 to cover the station’s costs.

The transfer station is anticipated to be completed by November. Finance Director Chris Meats said the city would have to consider another rate increase if a loan or other financing was secured for the transfer station and equipment and cautioned the Council, saying the longer they wait to make a decision, the more time the solid waste fund would need to recover.

“We need to explore and decide what we’re going to do,” Councilman Gary Killpack said.

Killpack motioned for the Council to decide if it wanted to issue a request for proposals from local solid waste companies, as well as instruct city staff to create a potential severance package for the solid waste employees should the Council ultimately decide to privatize the system. Killpack said solid waste employees have been on edge long enough regarding the future of their employment with the city.

Five of the six Council representatives were in favor of issuing a request for proposal. The sole dissenting vote came from Councilman Allan Wilson, who said the Council should have had all of the options laid before them prior to finalizing the city’s budget.

Wilson also criticized the decision, saying other employees would likely have their time cut as a result of moving to a private solid waste system, not just the employees within the solid waste division.

Mayor Pete Rust said the issue is something hitting cities and towns across the state, citing a survey conducted by the Wyoming Association of Municipalities.

He said 24 of the 25 responding municipal governments are conducting rate studies, raising rates and building transfer stations.

Rust said the stations are a result of a partially funded mandate from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality in an attempt to protect ground water supplies from landfill contamination. Rust said municipalities with landfills were given the choice of installing a lining in their landfill or transferring garbage to a regional land fill.

Rust said plans were in place for the transfer station, but the city didn’t anticipate the loss in mineral revenue two years ago, which impacted funding from the state.

Despite that, Rust said the city’s staff did a better job than most in preparing Green River for the revenue decline.

 

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