County approves landfill increases

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 28, 2006

After much debate during the last two regular meetings, the Crenshaw County Commission voted to increase the county landfill fees.

Solid Waste Officer John Hollis brought a proposal before the commission at the Oct. 9 meeting, which showed a cost increase in the amounts per load taken to the county's landfill. For example, a 1/2-ton truck or small trailer presently costs $8 per load but would be increased to $10 per load. A 20-yard load increased from $60 to $70, a 25-yard load increased from $75 to $85, a 30-yard load increased from $90 to $100, and a 40-yard load of debris increased from $120 to $130.

Commissioner Ed Beasley was worried about what these increases would do to the city of Luverne when it came to their cost increases per load.

&#8220It looks to me like the citizens of Luverne are getting punished for having roadside pickup service,” Beasley said.

County engineer Benjie Sanders said that not only had the cost of operating the landfill increased, but meeting ADEM's stricter requirements also added to the need for more revenue.

&#8220If the costs keep exceeding the revenue, neither the county nor the city will have these services,” Sanders said.

Hollis agreed with Sanders and said that the Solid Waste Office &#8220went up on everybody, not just Luverne.”

&#8220If it had not been for the county commission of '94-'95 and the city of Luverne, we would not have an inert landfill,” Beasley said. &#8220And, we would not have experienced the industrial growth that we have had.”

After much discussion at the Oct. 9 meeting, the commission voted to table the motion to accept the proposal until after the commission could discuss it with Luverne Mayor Joe Rex Sport.

At Monday night's meeting, Commissioner Ronnie Hudson made a motion to accept the landfill fee proposal.

Presently, the city of Luverne pays $5,150 per year in a contract with the county for usage of the landfill. With the proposed increase, that rate would have gone up to approximately $14,000 per year.

&#8220That's too drastic of a budget change for that line item,” Commissioner Charlie Sankey said. &#8220$5,150 is too cheap, but $14,000 is too drastic.”

County engineer Benjie Sanders said that Hurricane Ivan had cost the county thousands of dollars because the city of Luverne hauled debris to the landfill.

&#8220A lot of that debris was burned, plus the city of Luverne put $2 million in the S.M.A.R.T. Plant over the last two years,” Beasley said.

Commission Chairman Ronnie Blackmon said that he would prefer to see the increased fees &#8220phased in” so that it would not be such a big change.

Comm. Sankey suggested that the city of Luverne be charged $5.50 a load this year and have it increased to $8 per load by next year. He then made a motion to accept the proposal with the exception of the cities of Luverne and Rutledge paying $5.50 per load instead of $8.

The motion failed with a 2-3 vote.

&#8220We came up with these figures based on each municipality's population back in 1995,” Beasley said.

Chairman Blackmon suggested that the county charge $5.50 per load for each municipality this year and then increase it to $8 per load for each municipality next year.

&#8220But, this was a contract with the people of these municipalities,” Beasley said.

The motion was made and accepted to approve the solid waste proposal with the exception of the changes made for the cities of Luverne and Rutledge.

The city of Luverne's rates will increase from $5,150 per year to $8,700, and the city of Rutledge's rates will increase from $1,260 per year to $1,627. The city of Brantley will remain the same at a rate of $2,700 per year. These increases will go into effect immediately.