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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Janesville's Landfill/Waste Collection Fee Jumps 70 Percent

Janesville residents will see their trash collection fee go from $56 to $95.35 next year.

During Monday's city council meeting, Operations Director John Whitcomb gave a quick rundown on how the costs have reached this point.

He mentioned that since 2005, sanitary landfill revenue has been used to partially or wholly offset other programs within the city's sanitation fund. He also mentioned how taking in significant waste from other communities generated revenue sufficient enough to cover the costs of the program and also provide a subsidy for the general fund. The economic downturn of 2009 resulted in a significant reduction in waste flow which reduced revenues. Revenue flows are now in reverse.

In 2010, the city established new policies to extend the life of the landfill by reducing trash intake from other communities, establish a new fee for residents and use sanitation fund balance to offset shortages not covered by the residential fee. By the end of 2012, the sanitation reserve fund was projected to be depleted. City council members began a study session to find ways to generate new revenue without raising fees. In the end they were left with little choice but to raise residential fees to cover costs. That's where we are today. Fair enough.

But is that the entire story? There was no mention whatsoever of impacts from recent changes in state budget policy or changes in state mandated tipping fees, whether it be increases or reductions, in state aid for landfills or other municipal utilities.

I do recall proposals in Walker's state budget that would force communities who raised landfill fees to offset those increases with reductions elsewhere in the budget. I believe Walker eventually vetoed that provision, but there were other assumed reductions in state revenue that would force further local tax and fee increases.

UPDATE #1: The budget signed by Gov. Scott Walker on June 30 prohibits the city from raising fees without cutting its annual tax levy by the same amount. source

Surprisingly I could find little information on the Web about state budget impacts as signed into law on local landfills/waste management programs.

Was Whitcomb right not to mention state budget impacts on landfill/waste collection fees from Acts 10 or 20 because there are none? Again, I've done some research on this and found only impacts from "proposed" legislation, but nothing on impacts as signed into law. Does someone have the answer and resource links to show otherwise?

You can watch the council discussion here. The waste/landfill portion begins at the 00:45:00 mark.

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