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Council weighs landfill options

When Superior’s City Council meets in committee following tonight’s regular meeting, councilors will have their first opportunity to discuss an analysis of the city’s landfill operations.

The first phase of the study conducted by Leidos Engineering LLC, looks at all costs associated from the time design begins for new cell construction to care required after the landfill cell is closed.

The second phase evaluates opportunity for expanding use of the landfill within a 100-mile radius of the landfill on Moccasin Mike Road.

“The study equitably distributes costs … to ensure the rate structures are fair and equitable to all customer classes,” David Yanke, vice president of the consulting firm stated in a memo to Public Works Director Jeff Goetzman.

Yanke said the proposed rates take into account all costs including operation and maintenance, debt service, cash capital outlays, design and permitting costs for future cell construction, and funding future closure and post closure care costs.

According to an executive summary presented to the city council, the analysis includes all costs associated with solid waste services administered by the city, including the city’s curbside recycling program.

“With the exception of the annual transfer from the (taxpayer funded) General Fund ($955,298 in 2013), it is important to note that solid waste collection is currently provided free of charge to all customers,” the summary states. However, if nothing changes in the way the city funds its solid waste services, the report states the city faces a $2.1 million deficit starting this year.

The report recommends a proposed rate of $16.31 to cover the costs of the city’s residential garbage and recycling services, spring and fall cleanup, disposal, administration and other costs, and a stabilization financial reserve.

Rates for collection include recommendation to charge $22.10 per week for dumpster services provided to the university, Superior Housing Authority and other city facilities.

After all, most cities in the nation charge monthly user fees for solid waste services, making Superior “unique,” according to the report.

In addition to charging fees for services, the report recommends the city lobby the state Legislature to allow the city to create the fee that doesn’t affect the tax levy, eliminate the general fund transfer, raising contractual fees with the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District and increase the tonnage coming into the municipal landfill. Other recommendations include evaluating commercial collection options that would compete with private haulers, consider getting out of the dumpster service business, or consider implementing a private hauler franchise or permit fee.

The report also recommends reducing tipping fees at the landfill to make it more competitive and consider marketing itself to communities in a 100-mile radius of the landfill to bolster the value of the landfill in the city.

The Council meets at 6:30 tonight in Room 201 of the Government Center.