The Ely Times 

If you utilize Ely Disposal Services you will soon see a increase in your May bill by $5.20. The White Pine County Commission approved this past Wednesday a rate increase for Ely Disposal Services.

Art Meechum, one of the owners for Ely Disposal, spoke before the commission stating that his attorney sent a letter to the City of Ely regarding this matter, and as of Wednesday, they received an acknowledgement of the letter is all.

Meechum stressed that this wasn’t anything he wanted to do, and he has gone over the numbers many times, and he’s at his wits end, but unfortunately had to ask for this increase.

“Should we get a positive response from the city somehow, we will refund any funds that we have collected back to the customers. I’d like to be on the agenda in December, so by that time we will have several months of billing from the city so we can draw up a good average, and maybe we can adjust the rate somewhat and make it a little more reasonable.”

It was explained that they are now weighed on the scale, and they are paying $30 a ton for all of the trash they are transporting to the landfill, whereas they were never weighed in the past.

“I have been out there I have been watching, and I know there’s nothing I can do about it but it’s extremely unfair with the way they are doing it, because I know people are going in there, their taking anybody’s trash who will fit in their trailer, “ he said. “I know their weighing some of the commercial outfits, some they’re not. I don’t have any idea of who decides who gets weighed and who don’t.”

He also went on mentioning that he has seen several lawn service companies pull up to the landfill, and they’re waved on through by the city personnel.

“They are really making it an unfair situation to keep our customer base the way it is,” Meechum said. “And when we do raise our rate I’m worried we’re going to lose customers but we have to raise it to cover that bill.”

Commissioner Gary Perea questioned Meechum. “So let me get this right, someone out in the county if they decide to haul their own trash, they show their bill at the gate they don’t get charged to dump their trash, but if that same customer decides to ask you to haul the trash for them they’re going to get charged again for that same trash?”

Meechum replied, “That’s exactly right, so they’re going to pay their $13 a month, then if they have our service we’re going to turn around and charge them again.”

District Attorney Mike Wheable spoke mentioning one of the agreements that the county had with Ely Disposal, and he noted that wasn’t sure if it was the most recent one that talks about gate fees with the city, making it really interesting because that wasn’t the original agreements.

Wheable said, “It’s not one of the ordinances, it’s not in our agreement with the city of Ely. Do you recall the joint meeting that we had with the city of Ely about collecting fees? Do you recall the agreement that was shown to everyone and discussed that the DA. was supposed to assist and help with? That agreement expired in 2004.

“There is no current agreement that I can locate,  that agreement is 14 years old, so there’s some issues here on what the county can do to correct this, or is this a private action that this business needs to take against the city. And, I can’t really counsel on that in an open meeting right now and we don’t have a closed litigation agenda.”

Perea, who lives in Baker, said he could see how this impacts everybody but it really effects people in Baker and the outlining areas. Baker residents don’t have that option to haul their trash, unless they want to spend $30 in fuel each time they have to haul their trash.

“It’s really interesting,  I haven’t heard a logical argument yet on how an individual who pays a certain fee to have their trash collected like you talked about, disposed of at the landfill, should be also charged an additional fee to pay someone to bring it there for them. I have an idea for this, but I don’t want to discuss that right now,” Wheable said.

The only issue for discussion at the moment was the rate increase Wheable explained to the commission. “Right now is that as sympathetic as this board is, and I am, with this situation, authorizing that rate increase because of the city’s actions on the tax payers may not be just, what may be more is like hard medicine, is to decline the fee increase, and require the private entity to seek their natural remedies. It’s tough, because I want to make sure they don’t go out of business either.”

Commissioner Steve Stork questioned Meechum on how much of an impact he was seeing on productivity?

He asked if it was a 10 minute process to run across the scales? How much time was lost? Meechum answered, “We’re losing at least a half of the truck per day per truck running across the scale.”

Meechum discussed Ely Disposal’s frustrations of having to make the increase citing that he felt that 99 percent of this goes back to the shortfall on the city’s uncollectible debt. “It’s kind of a frightening thing to me that the city will operate the way that they have.”

Stork questioned Wheable on whether or not the commission could authorize an immediate increase for Ely Disposal to keep him solvent.

Wheable said, “I think legally you can, I think your going to get alot of pushback from the rate payers, but they don’t have to contract with Ely disposal, they don’t have pay those fees.”

Vice Chairman of the Commission, Shane Bybee said, “That’s the gamble Mr. Meechum is taking is that he is going to lose those customers, but knowing it isn’t legally required to use his service,  I don’t think we’re putting ourselves in any peril of advising this rate increase.”

Perea asked Meechum if they approved the increase if Ely Disposal was going to send a letter to all of their customers informing them of the increase, and Meechum said, “Yes, I haven’t prepared the wording yet but it will be somewhere along the lines of…due to the increase by the City of Ely charging us by weight for your trash, and even though you have already paid your bill to the city we still must go forward with this increase to cover our cost.”

Perea said, “It’s certainly hard to explain something that’s unexplainable.”

The motion was made and approved unanimously to approve the increase and review it again in December of 2018.