The Santa Rosa County Central Landfill is scheduled to undergo two major expansion projects in the near future, hence the County Commission has decided to raise waste disposal fees. The Board of Commissioners voted to hike rates by $2 per tonne annually through 2025 (with Commissioner Sam Parker absent and Commissioner James Calkins voting nay) and by an additional $1 per tonne annually through 2026 and 2027.
By 2027, the so-called “tipping costs” will have doubled from their present level of $42 per tonne to $50. The cost of constructing a new maintenance building in FY 2023 and opening a new “cell” to expand garbage deposit capacity in FY 2025 will be covered by the price hikes. Attendees at last week’s County Commission meeting didn’t appear phased by the proposed increases in tipping rates, and the few who spoke in favor of the measure.
Calkins, meanwhile, has stated that he views any increase in the rates (which are now the lowest in the region) as “expanding government” and any increase in taxes.
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“The price of garbage is going up as a result. If we pass this today, garbage collection will become more expensive “
That’s what Calkins remarked. It’s the worst possible time to impose this on the public. Adams Sanitation managing partner Nathan Boyles told county commissioners on Monday that he had no serious issues about the proposed fee hike but asked that it be phased in to allow his company to adapt its budgeting. Adams Sanitation is one of two garbage haulers operating in Santa Rosa County.
At a committee meeting on Wednesday, before the commissioners’ vote on raising costs on Thursday, he predicted that the company will transport over 40,000 tonnes this year. “When it comes to you guys, one dollar goes a long way. For me, a dollar is worth forty thousand dollars.”
Spokesman for Santa Rosa County, Sarah Whitfield, said the first fee increase would take effect on April 1. After thereafter, on January 1 of each year through 2027, there will be increases. The county ordinance enforcing the charge hikes specifies that any future modifications in tipping fees would be determined based on the consumer price index beginning in 2027.
In addition, there will be a per-ton tax of $1 that the county government will impose to help cover the price of conducting environmental inspections. An engineering and consulting firm named Geosyntec analysed the landfill’s financial situation and recommended three different approaches to increasing rates; the commissioners ultimately settled on a phased increase.
With two costly projects on the horizon and the cost of eventually closing the dump to be considered, the company reported that the county’s current practice of making rate adjustments every two years based on the consumer price index was not advisable.
Geosyntec consultants Sarah Gustitus-Graham and Montana Meeker that the county set aside funds for the purchase of land for a new landfill and the eventual cost of closing the Santa Rosa County Central Landfill. After being decommissioned, the dump must be covered and monitored for 30 years.
The Santa Rosa County landfill received 393,340 tonnes of garbage and 29,942 tonnes of recyclables in FY 2021, according to a study by Geosyntec. It was determined that Hurricane Sally was responsible for a 33.4% increase in the annual tonnage collected.
The number of people from other areas that drive to Santa Rosa County just to take advantage of the county’s cheaper tipping rates was brought up during the County Commission’s debate of the increase. Jerry Couey, a local, questioned whether or not there was a way to lessen the influx of newcomers to the area.
“We have a responsibility to look out for our own people first.”
A $5 per tonne fee will be added to waste determined to have been brought in from outside the county, even though it was stated that trying to bill out-of-county citizens trying to drop garbage off at the Santa Rosa County landfill appeared impracticable.