City officials eye sanitation costs, waste disposal and recycling options
City officials in Marshall are talking trash this week as they look at the city's ever-increasing sanitation expenses.
Four days a week, sanitation trucks rumble through Marshall collecting trash and paper for recycling. A necessary service, it also comes at a price -- a price that continues to rise.
Costs continue to rise
City Administrator Charlie Tryban said it cost the city $21 per ton to send its trash to the Sedalia landfill in 1996. In the seven years since, that rate has increased to the current charge of $30 per ton.
The cost of waste disposal is further increased by labor expenses and the $125,000 price tag on each of the city's sanitation trucks. Last year the city had budgeted $235,000 for sanitation, but the actual expenses came in closer to $280,000, Tryban said.
Another concern is that Central Missouri Landfill's Sedalia location is nearing capacity and could be full in six to eight months. Tryban said the company's state president, Kevin O'Brien, told him the process of securing permits to expand the landfill is nearly complete, but the situation has been an incentive for Marshall officials to explore other options.
One such option is the reopening of Marshall's landfill. Mayor Connie Latimer has called for a feasibility study to explore the possibility. Latimer said the idea isn't a new one and is on the minds of Marshall residents.
"It's one of the things people asked me about during the campaign," she said. "And I had two people ask about it this week."
Latimer said some people have told her a local landfill will not work, but she is waiting until the study is completed to make her decision. She is scheduled to meet next month with Midwest Environmental Consultants to outline the scope of the study.
Rate increase likely
The city is also looking at a rate increase for sanitation service. Tryban said the current residential charge of $11.05 per month has been in place since 1994. The city's Sanitation Committee met Thursday to discuss the matter and developed a recommendation to increase monthly residential rates by $1.25 and commercial rates by 30 percent.
"The recommended increase will bring revenues to a break-even level with present expenditures," Tryban said.
The recommendation will likely be discussed when the Marshall City Council meets on Oct. 6, but no action is expected to be taken before the council's Oct. 20 meeting.
Recycling also a
Environmental concerns and a desire to reduce the amount of refuse entering the landfill have led Marshall to develop its recycling program, which includes curbside pickup of all types of paper and the drop-off recycling facility on North Street where residents can drop off glass, plastics, cardboard, paper and some metals. However, the program is expensive and many Marshallites still do not take part.
While the tipping fee paid to Marshall Municipal Utilities to take paper for recycling is lower than the landfill charge, Latimer said it costs the city $100 per ton to recycle paper. This includes labor for collecting the paper from curbside bins as well as mechanical expenses associated with the process.
Tryban noted that Marshall residents are recycling more, but it is hard to compete with today's product packaging. "It is working, but it's not keeping up with the prepackaging," he said.
Data released by the Municipal Services Department showed that, as of August, the city recycled 25 tons more paper in 2003 than during the same period in 2002. In comparison, the city collected 6,256 tons of garbage during the first eight months of 2002 and a total of 6,308 tons during the same period this year, a difference of 52 tons.
Latimer said she is unsure what can be done to improve the city's recycling efforts, but said she wants to remind those who haven't picked up a recycling bin from MMU's office on Morgan Street to do so.
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