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Janesville residents likely to pay garbage collection fee

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
August 10, 2010
— Residents can expect to pay at least $40 for garbage pick-up next year, according to what a majority of council members indicated at a Monday study session.

Council members also directed staff to decrease the amount of trash accepted at the landfill beginning in 2012 so it will last until new space can be opened in 2045.


Landfill fees have for several years not only paid for the landfill operation but also for the collection and disposal and recycling of garbage for residents.


The landfill is now showing a deficit because trash tonnage has dropped. The landfill budget is projected to be in the red by at least $1 million beginning this year.


A flat fee of $13.95 a quarter would raise the $1.3 million staff estimates is needed to cover the collection and disposal of garbage for an estimated 23,700 households. City Manager Eric Levitt recommends easing the transition and charging $10 each quarter.


Staff can evaluate the fee after the first year to see how close the city comes to breaking even. Levitt said the city shouldn't make money off of a fee.


The council on Monday also:


-- Agreed it has no choice but to limit the amount of garbage it accepts in the future from outside companies because available land must last until 2045. A contract with Janesville Sand & Gravel opens new land after that. However, at the current rate, the city will only get to about 2035 before it runs out of room.


-- Did not direct the city to consider single-stream recycling, which means residents will continue to separate garbage and recyclables. Single-stream recycling would have cost an additional $85,000.


-- Asked staff to come up with some sort of sticker or payment mechanism when residents bring garbage to the landfill. Janesville residents now can carry in 60 gallons of waste at no charge. That could change under proposals suggested Monday.


-- Backed down on a previous suggestion to pick up garbage every other week. "I cannot even imagine with the temperature that we have now what every other week would be like," council member Kathy Voskuil said. Operations Director John Whitcomb said residents would realize a savings of 22 percent but would see a 50-percent reduction in service.


Council member Frank Perrotto urged other members to approve the full cost of almost $14 a quarter so it wouldn't have to increase the amount the next year. No other council member weighed in on the fee.


Council member Tom McDonald said he still preferred a pay-as-you-go fee to encourage recycling and reduce what goes into the landfill. He received no support from fellow council members.


Council member Bill Truman also recommended charging lawn businesses that use the compost site. Those commercial vendors are not charged if they are working for someone within city limits. Staff is supposed to ask vendors for job site information.


Council member George Brunner said he is not happy about imposing a fee but understands that the city must do something.


"I get a little concerned over how government works when it comes to this," he said. "I think we get to a point between storm water fees and fire protection fees and other fees, we can fee people to death."


The $40 put on property taxes would at least be tax-deductible, he added.


But a $40 increase on property taxes would bump the taxes up against state-imposed levy limits, Whitcomb said.


Staff will write an ordinance including a fee and bring it back to the council later this fall.



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