A $5 increase in the tipping fee member cities pay to the Davis County Solid Waste Management and Energy Recovery Special Service District is in the works, and cities are being warned to prepare for the increase as they prepare budgets.

The district's board of directors approved notifying the cities that the tipping fee would increase from $20 to $25 per ton of trash hauled to a burn plant east of Hill Air Force Base.Officials say cities may have to increase the garbage pickup fee to residents by about 50 cents per month. Cities are not obligated to raise the fee but would have to use another revenue source to offset the increase if it is not passed on to residents.

Board Chairman Jay Dewell said that while data to support the increase are not yet available, indications are that the increase will be needed and cities should plan for it.

Dewell attributed the increase in part to the continuing decline in the price of natural gas to industrial users. The district produces steam for sale to Hill Air Force Base, but the price is keyed to the cost of natural gas.

When the plant was being planned four years ago, officials expected the price of gas to continue to rise. Price cuts over the past two years have meant a revision in the tipping fee from $12 per ton originally anticipated to the now-projected $25.

In other business, the board authorized negotiations with Wasatch County officials on a possible five-year contract to bring that county's waste to the burn plant. The county is having difficulty finding a site for a new landfill and wants to use the Davis facility on an interim basis. Board members suggested that a shorter-term contract be considered with options to extend the contract if necessary.

District Manager James Young said the contract would mean an additional 25 to 30 tons per day would be hauled to the plant. He believes that is well within the plant capacity for at least the next five years.

Board members want an escape clause in the contract, though, to make sure member cities are protected and that Wasatch trash will not end up in a district-operated landfill.