KayLynn Roberts-McMurray
Ely Disposal Service has proposed a $5.25 increase a month for trash disposal.

The Ely Times

Ely Disposal Services went before the White Pine County Commission Wednesday morning, April 25, to discuss the need to raise the monthly fees to residential customers.  Ely Disposal Services has a franchise contract with White Pine County.

Last September, Ely Disposal went before the Ely City Council discussing the change in landfill fees.

Gerald Meecham mentioned then that his route trucks were 99 percent residential, and that everybody who was paying for their service was already paying for landfill fees. City Attorney Chuck Odgers told Gerald Meecham at that time that his garbage collection service was a business for profit, and the city hasn’t been billing him.

Eight months later, Art Meecham, brother of Gerald, is now standing before the commission asking for a rate increase to customers.

Art Meecham said, “We were hoping that the agenda item was for possible action but it was noted on the agenda as discussion.”

Meechum went on to explain that the city’s action requiring them to pay a weight fee on their route trucks each time they enter the landfill is trickling down to residential customers.

“We feel that this is an unjust charge as a charge to our customers twice for the same benefit,” he said.  “We feel that this is not right, unfortunately until this can be resolved we must be able to pass this charge forward on to our customers.”

It was noted that rates have not been raised except for minor fuel charges in the last nine years.

Meechum said, “We don’t believe that the city’s inability to collect landfill fees from county residents should be burdened on Ely Disposal.

“We have been trying to come up with a reasonable figure that covers the cost and it has not been an easy task.”

Meechum explained that he spent three weeks going over the EPA estimates to come up with a figure that would work.  It was reported that, according to the EPA figures, it is estimated based on amount of refuge generated per person.  It is estimated that 1,606 pounds of landfillable refuge per person a year, would create an increase by approximately $5.25 per month.

“We must increase our rates as soon as possible, our billing from the city for March was $6,239.30,” he said. “This kind of increase on us impacts us severely, this could be catastrophic to our company.”

This increase will put the company out $4,000 each month based on the mathematics for each months bill to Ely Disposal from the city.

Art Meechem suggested raising the rates, and then re-addressing it down the road. It was explained that the weight of trash is variable. During the summer season, more grass clippings create more weight, it’s not that there is more trash, it’s just heavier, then during the wet and rainy or snowy months trash is even heavier when it gets wet.

Meechum continued to stress that they need to do something or else it will kill their business.

District Attorney Mike Wheable noted that for the benefit of the public, Ely Disposal had to approach the commission because they have a ordinance for the franchise rate. “We kind of control the situation, and it’s kind of a weird situation” Wheable said.

It was mentioned that for seniors that are on a fixed income that won’t be able to afford the increase Ely Disposal Services will work with.

Commissioner Richard Howe said, “So your estimate is $5.20 more a month” ? Meechum said yes.

Meechum said, “I’d like to see if we could set it up so that in four months we could readdress the issue, one way or another, that we could change that rate and hopefully be able to lower it a little bit.”  We’ve only had one month to compare it to. I know that weight is going to change drastically at certain times of the year.

Wheable stressed to the commission to put a timeline on the rate incrase.

“Have a timeline on it, because if we just increase it then it’s status quo and the city gets what they want it’s better to put a timeline on it,” he said.

Discussion went on about the double billing that seemed to being administered by the city for the landfill fees.

Meechem said, “I understand in principle and theory it’s double taxation but in reality were paying for a service, so this service is independent from what the City of Ely does, now maybe what the City of Ely is doing is illegal and it needs to stop and that’s why he has a say, and we may have a say on the agreement, but I haven’t analyzed it yet. But it is a service, regardless of whether they pay or not it a private business service.”

Commissioner Gary Perea said, “It is a service but it’s not just your typical service, it’s a franchise with the county puts in a little bit different situation.”

Meechum mentioned that he had proposed to the city to do away with the billing for everybody every month and go with a standard gate fee.

“I don’t care if it’s weight based, however they want to base it, just so it’s the same for everybody,” he said.

Under the current situation it has been seen that different trucks with yard equipment pull up to the landfill and go dump for free.

“We have physically seen ourselves the state prison truck, which is bigger than ours, they didn’t even weight it,” Meechum said.

It was agreed upon by the commission to have the Ely Disposal services on the next agenda to discuss and take action on a rate increase.