Solid Waste Assessment
In 2000 the County Board to implemented a county wide solid waste service fee . To do this accurately, it is necessary to provide you with a brief history of solid waste in Itasca County which drove the decisions to our current operation, management, and funding system.
In early 1994, it was necessary to close our landfill in order to comply with State and Federal regulations. Itasca County bonded for dollars to complete the closure process and for construction of a transfer station to accept waste. Remaining money from these bonds and accumulated interest over the years provided carry-over dollars to off-set revenue shortfalls needed to fund the solid waste department. Over time, these funds have been expended leaving alternative funding mechanisms necessary to pay for the cost of managing waste.
Beginning in late 1997, the solid waste market drove the garbage from our county facility to private facilities permitted, owned, and operated by private commercial solid waste management firms. We have taken steps to contract out (privatize) the operations at the transfer station, recycling, and outlying canister sites which has resulted in a saving to Itasca County and has over the years reduced the dollars and number of county employees from 20+ to our current level of 3 full time equivalents. However, we have also experienced a reduction in revenue funds because we no longer retain the household garbage fees collected from commercial contractors.
Our current sources of revenue include commercial demolition accounts and the sale of household garbage and demolition coupons used at our outlying canister sites and main transfer station. Coupons used as part of a city pick-up service are not revenues retained by the county. State grants also provide for a small portion of revenue to the county. All total, revenue collected for the Solid Waste Department equals approximately $500,000.
In comparison, Solid Waste Department expenses total about $1.6 million dollars. Expenditures include the operation and maintenance of the transfer station, canister sites, and demolition landfill as well as a broad range of programs designed to manage waste and protect the environment (ie: recycling, household hazardous waste, solid waste education, and yard waste composting). We have researched various options on reducing expenses such as eliminating canister sites or reducing services, although past experience has shown that with this kind of change in solid waste management, what often occurs are greater expenses in clean-up of illegal dumps, a loss of environmental protection programs, and customer dissatisfaction. We see stability in the system with our current contractors. However, to continue to maintain our current system and be in compliance with state mandated programs, revenue funds beyond what we are currently able to generate are necessary. The past option of increasing tipping fees would no longer create enough revenue to our current operating structure and would encourage illegal dumping. The special assessment is a method which captures equal based fees for solid waste management from each resident, business, and non-profit agency.