Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Deficit prompts landfill rate hikes

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Monday, July 20, 2015

Landfill Deficit Causes Landfill Fee Hikes

The Central Landfill and 13 Transfer Stations make up the Solid Waste Division of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

The Division operates as an enterprise fund, so no property tax revenue is used to provide waste services to the public. Only money from the gate receipts is used for operating the landfill and transfer stations.

DEFICIT AT THE LANDFILL

The Borough runs an efficient landfill operation. The Division staffing is about 47 percent of Kenai or Fairbanks, the closest to our landfill in terms of size and tons of waste received daily. While the Central Landfill does pay for itself, the transfer sites produce a direct loss of about $2 million annually. In fiscal year 2015, the solid waste enterprise fund had an overall deficit of about $1.5 million. To deal with this deficit the Borough Assembly approved rate increases for fiscal year 2016. These rate increases took effect on July 1, 2015.

HOW RATES CHANGED

Here is a link to the new rates

https://www.matsugov.us/department/solid-waste-services

Today, one cubic yard costs $15, 2 cubic yards are $30, 3 cubic yards are $45 etc. An average pick up load with an 8-foot bed would now cost $45. The prior cost was approximately $22. Today a fuller pickup load, filled to the top of the cab, 5 cubic yards, costs $75 where the old cost was $44.

We understand that rate increases can be upsetting. The rates, however, were not keeping pace with the costs of operating the system. Most residents who don’t already recycle can reduce their fees by half or more just by separating the recyclable materials.

RECYCLING HELPS LOWER INFRASTRUCTURE COSTS AT LANDFILL

“Every pound of waste that is kept out of the landfill saves the Borough .25 cents,” said Terry Dolan, Director of Borough Public Works. He encourages residents to recycle cardboard, plastics, paper, and metals to extend the life of an expensive landfill cell and to reduce your landfill fees.

“It costs .25 cents a pound to put trash in the landfill. It’s $5 million to open a landfill cell and another $5 million to close it. It has to be lined with acres and acres of plastic as thick as your thumb with drainage pipes under it. It’s a huge undertaking, and after closing it we have to monitor it,” Dolan said.

The Borough owns the recycling center next to the Landfill, operated by Valley Community for Recycling Solutions. Drop-offs are convenient. Visit their website at https://valleyrecycling.org/contact-us/. The center will take recycling free of charge but they do suggest a small donation if you can afford it.

The Borough is also supporting recycling organizations at some transfer stations. Free recycling is offered by Mid Valley Recycling at the Big Lake Transfer Station.

“We are working to expand the free recycling services,” Dolan said noting that very limited recycling is available in most areas but both Willow and Talkeetna are now moving forward with plans designed to add free recycling options in the future.

Please see the Borough recycling web page at https://www.matsugov.us/department/recycling for more tips on reducing your waste.

For questions on the Central Landfill call Terry Berger, 861-7604 and on transfer sites call Char Avril at 861-7602.

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