The Ely Times
At an Ely City Council meeting on Thursday, Sept. 14, one topic that had a lot of discussion was regarding billing rates for waste entering the landfill.
This item was placed on the agenda by councilwoman Jolene Gardner. City Administrator Robert Switzer said, “This was admittedly a very difficult tasking analysis to go through. Most of the rural communities and counties that have landfills charge by volume as we do now, with residential waste being able to go into the landfill with no charge.”
The issue in Ely is the landfill has scales to weigh the waste. The purpose of the scale is to charge waste coming in by weight rather than volume.
The explanation was given that weighing the waste material is the fairest way to assess a charge versus an estimate of volume. Examples of other entities that weigh their waste are Elko County and West Wendover.
These examples were used to show the close approximation of the population here in Ely.
The City of Ely is looking at what to charge, but also in a way that the city is not negatively impacted by not collecting enough by its current way of doing business.
Switzer said. “We want to be fair to the customer as well by not charging too much either”.
The analysis was that the city currently hasn’t been charging a private carrier for hauling in residential waste, no fee at all. They do however charge for commercial waste material based on volume.
Switzer said, “In some cases as the analysis shows, some companies are being charged $187 when if they are weighed it could only cost them $90 ($30 a ton) based on the tonnage of the waste. Whereas household waste is being brought in and the city is not charging for that.”
Switzer proposed charging $30 a ton for residential, commercial, construction and demolition materials. Residents can still continue to bring their waste but they would need to present a paid up utility bill to show that their account is current. A $5 minimum if you didn’t provide your bill.
Mayor Melody VanCamp said, “We have been trying to resolve this for months, at least this is a start.”
Councilman Kurt Carson was concerned about the $5 minimum if you didn’t show up with a current bill. “Are people going to find a loophole, and say I can pay $5 to dump my trash even if my bill is behind, leaving no repercussion?” Carson said.
Gerald Meachum, owner of Ely Disposal Services, stood before the council and said, “As far as charging for the commercial roll offs, I have no problem with this, but what I do have a problem with is charging the route trucks, they are roughly 99 percent residential.
“Everybody who has our services already pays. I am going to have to raise my rates in order to compensate, our only purpose is to merely transport to the landfill, we’re a taxi for your trash”.
But City Attorney Odgers spoke differently on the situation. He said, “ The ultimate position is that Mr. Meachum is in business to make a profit, and the problem is that, you bring your garbage up there, you have to pay for it, Mr. Meachum is providing a service, but he’s taking a profit off this service and the city isn’t billing him. He should still be charged when he comes in the gate, just like a contractor is, just like my farm is, you get charged, when you cross that gate. Mr. Meachum can’t be charged differently, either by volume or weight”.
Meachum said, “I respectfully disagree with you….the people are already paying for the landfill service.”
Currently the charge for residential pick up by Ely Disposal is $17.25 a month if you have your own trash receptacle, or $20.64 a month if they provide the customer with a trash receptacle.
“If we have to charge more, then the people who use our service, will have to pay more, they’ll be paying double the landfill fee,” Meachum said.
Gardner said, “That is their choice, if I want you to pick up my garbage, I pay you, and my city bill.”
Meachum, appearing frustrated, noted that everybody that goes through the gate should have to pay to go through the gate. Gardner made a motion that a resolution be created to instruct city attorney and city administrator to prepare a resolution for the rates, and changes, for the next city council meeting.
Carson disapproved with the other four councilmen approving the motion.
Other agenda items that were discussed, was the approval to place the street’s department on a 4 day 10 hour work week schedule during the summer months. This was approved unanimously.
Councilman Tony DeFelice requested discussion and approval for the city administrator to be designated as the animal control officers’ supervisor.
This ended up in a 2 to 3 vote, with Carson, Gardner and Hanson disapproving, and Flangas and DeFelice approving. City Attorney Odgers will remain the supervisor for Animal Control.