Springfield, MO

Trash collectors fight fee increases

Posted online

Representative of three local area solid-waste companies voiced opposition to a proposed 8 percent hike in landfill tipping fees at the Springfield City Council meeting June 4.

Richard Brownsberger, owner of Strafford-based Hometown Disposal Inc., said his trash hauling service did not have time to adjust to the rate increases that, if approved, would take effect Sept. 1. Hometown Disposal commercial contracts typically run through the end of the year, and Brownsberger said his residential customers are charged in three-month increments.

“I want to know what warrants the fee increase,” Brownsberger said. “At the very least, we’d like to wait until the beginning of 2013, so we could be prepared.”

The increase in landfill rates is part of the city's proposed fee schedule for services in fiscal 2013, a regular exercise in the budget process. Finance Director Mary Mannix Decker said fee adjustments are made annually and are designed to cover 100 percent of the city’s costs. The city's $310 million fiscal 2013 budget was passed during the meeting as a separate bill without discussion during the second reading from council members.  

The fee schedule proposes 138 rate increases, 22 declines in service rates and 15 unchanged service fees. Only the landfill tipping fees garnered comments from the public.

James and Vickie Ball of Springfield-based Moore’s Trash Service, and Carla Lampe of Fair Grove-based Ozark Mountain Sanitation each expressed concern about the suddenness of the rate increases concerns to council.

Springfield Environmental Services Director Steve Meyer said the city last adjusted the landfill tipping fee schedule in 2007, increasing rates to $28.65 per ton. Last year, the city also added a 2 percent charge on credit card payments by trash collectors. The proposal would increase the tipping fee to $30.94 per ton, according to documents submitted to council.

Meyer said increases on tipping fees were overdue, and Springfield still compares favorably with other cities across the state.

“Even with this increase, we are going to have the lowest-priced tipping fee in the state,” Meyer told council members.

Councilman John Rush was one of several to speak out against the city's process, which meant haulers learned only last week the fees could go up.

“I think these are legitimate complaints,” Rush said.

City Manager Greg Burris said he would arrange for Meyer and representatives from concerned trash companies to discuss at the June 12 council luncheon the need for increases and possibly find ways to make the rate hikes less immediate.

Meyer said the move was made to cover the city’s costs, but he doesn’t want to impose an unnecessary burden on businesses.

“None of us like to see costs increase,” Meyer said at the meeting.

Other proposals in the fee schedule:

• Increases on 26 fees associated with zoning and subdivision case reviews ranging from 2.8 percent to 23.5 percent;

• Raise liquor license investigation fees 5.7 percent and fees to investigate applications for permission to operate an after-hours establishment by 12.2 percent;

• Increase building plan review minimum costs 23.5 percent to $163.

 The proposed fee changes are scheduled to be voted on at the June 18 council meeting.

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