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Finding treasure in city's trash

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Ann Fiore
Sunday, December 9, 2007
— You know what they say about one man’s trash and another man’s treasure.

For John Whitcomb, operations director for the city of Janesville, trash actually is treasure—at least in a way.

The city makes money by contracting with waste haulers to dump garbage in Janesville’s landfill. In 2008, Whitcomb estimates the landfill will bring in more than $3.2 million in revenue.

That means the sanitation fund will be able to pay for the local trash collection and recycling program in 2008, as well as return $200,000 to the general fund, Whitcomb said.

On Monday, the city council will consider extending until 2010 the waste disposal contracts with Town & Country Sanitation, based in Boscobel, and Waste Management of Wisconsin, which has a Janesville office.

The council also will consider a contract with Sherman Sanitation, a private waste hauler serving Janesville and Rock County.

Combined, the three contracts would guarantee a minimum of 95,000 tons of waste and more than $1.9 million annually, Whitcomb wrote in a memo to the council.

Janesville’s landfill charges waste haulers a tipping fee of $21.80 per ton. The state’s part of the tipping fee—$5.90—includes a $2.10 increase that took effect Nov. 1. The city’s portion—$15.90—hasn’t changed since 1993.

Revenue has increased over the years because the city contracts with more waste haulers, some of whom get a discount to come to Janesville, Whitcomb said.

“We’ve essentially doubled our waste flow in the last few years,” he said.

Janesville tries to stay competitive with its rates. Revenue is expected to drop slightly in 2008 because the city couldn’t work out an agreement with Veolia Environmental, a waste hauler that’s now using other landfills.

Making revenue on the landfill is a good thing, but the city also must save enough space for local garbage. The landfill is a finite resource, Whitcomb said.

“The balancing act is to try to offset some of our other costs without filling the thing up by tomorrow,” he said.

Janesville’s landfill will take in about 210,000 tons of garbage in 2008, Whitcomb said.

That garbage is about evenly split between city and noncity sources.

Last updated: 11:37 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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