The residents and industry officials who attended a hearing on the cost of dumping garbage in Salt Lake County agreed on one thing - something must be done to encourage more recycling in the county.
However, those at the noon hearing Tuesday in the West Valley City Hall had different opinions on achieving that goal. They also differed as to whether county residents should have to pay an extra $1.75 per ton for commercially hauled garbage and an extra $2.75 per ton for garbage they haul to the dump in their own pickups and vans - an increase of 122 percent over current rates."They are going to increase some of these fees to the point where the average citizen will say `I'm just going to dump it (garbage) somewhere,' " said Maxine McCleary, a West Valley resident.
Janice Fisher, a West Valley councilwoman who said she was speaking only on her behalf, said the proposed increase would hurt private citizens with a weekend load of trash.
"The increase would be prohibitive to a lot of residents of West Valley City," she said.
But many of the approximately 30 people in attendance supported the increase. Some said it should be even higher to encourage people to be more environmentally conscious.
The Salt Lake Valley Solid Waste Management Council will make its final recommendation Friday at 11 a.m. when it meets in Room 442 of the City-County Building, 451 S. State.
The price increase, which likely will be passed on to all county residents through their city garbage fees, would be used to pay for a public unloading facility that will allow residents to separate items that can be recycled or used in a giant compost pile. The money also will cover higher operating costs, including those necessary to bring the landfill up to federal Environmental Protection Agency standards.
Independent recyclers worry the emphasis on recycling at the landfill will hurt their businesses and glut a market already unstable because of a lack of demand for recycled items. Environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club, support the increase, as do members of various recycling committees throughout the valley. Residents who attended the hearing without representing any party with interests in the industry opposed the increase.
Officials from the county and Salt Lake City said the increase still would put the landfill's fees far below the national average of $26.93 per ton. The fees would be below most other landfills in Utah. Davis County's NARD facility, for example, charges $50 per ton, said Dan Bauer, Salt Lake County's solid waste disposal director.
Ivan Weber, chairman of the Sierra Club's Environmental Health Committee, said the increases would not be enough to handle the valley's recycling needs. Carol Werner, representing Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis' recycling committee, said people will not seriously consider environmental issues until the price of dumping becomes high enough to make them think.
Raising the costs
The Salt Lake Valley Solid Waste Management Committee wants to impose these fees at the City/County Landfill:
Current Fee Proposed
Commercial $6.25/ton $8/ton
Pickup loads $2.25/ton $5/ton