Our Views: Fee for compost? Janesville City Council right to bury that idea

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Don't nickel and dime residents at every turn.

That seems to be the sentiment of Janesville residents, and the city council apparently got the message when it agreed Monday to fold compost facility costs into the annual trash charge rather than creating yet another separate fee.

Acting City Manager Jay Winzenz favored the fee for residents who drop leaves, grass and other yard waste at the compost facility off Black Bridge Road. The proposed annual fee was to range from $20 up to $40 for unlimited visits. Winzenz suggested the fee would encourage more people to mulch or compost their own yard waste.

That plan, however, would unearth unintended consequences. Many residents have more leaves and yard waste than their lawns and gardens can possibly absorb through composting. More yards might wind up shaggy. More people would set out more bags for city crews to collect during spring and fall yard waste pickups. More residents also likely would pile more debris in streets for the fall leaf collection—and more of this waste would wash down storm sewers during heavy rains before city crews come around. Even worse, as Operations Director John Whitcomb pointed out, more residents would be tempted to place yard waste in their big new trash bins and fill up the landfill faster.

Whitcomb has his thumb on the situation. Micromanaging was unnecessary.

Yes, costs of maintaining the compost facility will be passed to all property owners through higher trash collection fees. Residents now pay $56, and that will rise to $95.35 next year. That, however, is only about $5 more than had the city enacted a separate compost fee.

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