Commissioners discuss solid waste shortfall

Taxes or fees may increase to help cover a possible shortfall in the cost of taking care of municipal solid waste.
That's what mayors from Blackfoot and Aberdeen and other interested representatives heard during a hearing with the Bingham County commissioners on Monday.
"It is anticipated there will be a $250,000 shortfall at the end of fiscal year 2013," said David Babbitt, Bingham County Public Works Director.
The fiscal year goes from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30 each year. The taxable year goes from Jan. 1 through Dec. 30.
Currently, Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) is subsidized at $10 per ton, Babbitt said. The county collects $35 per ton from commercial haulers and pays $45 per ton to get rid of it. 
"It's estimated 25,000 tons of municipal solid waste goes through the transfer station each year," said Babbitt. "Some years are a little less."
Taxes per household cost $138 per year before the transfer station was completed in 2000. That amount was collected with the county property taxes.
The tax rate is now lower. The county collects a user fee of $44 per ton with the property taxes at this time.
"It costs the county $58.11 per ton if you divide the total tons of waste into the total budget," Babbitt said.
One suggestion coming from the hearing was to charge commercial and residential users the same fee. For the last 13 years, commercial loads have been charged $35 per ton; residential loads are charged $40 per ton.  With the costs being $45 per ton to process, haul, and landfill the municipal waste, the county is losing $5 to $10 on every ton of MSW.
Blackfoot Mayor Mike Virtue said he would support one adjustment to solid waste that would include tires and appliances.
Tires are currently accepted at no charge.  Firth clerk Robert Dial said, "I would see more tires and appliances left in my barrow pit if there is a charge on tires and refrigerators."
Babbitt anticipates a 25 percent increase in volume of all waste—household, construction and demolition, grass clippings, tires, appliances, etc.—if the total solid waste budget is put on the tax rolls, as it was in the 1990’s.   Part of the anticipated increase would come from the City of Shelley because the county is not currently handling its waste.
After some discussion the goal was not to shift the entire budget to the property taxes, but just the shortfall.
Commissioner Mark Bair said the most equitable way to pay for the shortfall is to charge the people who use the service.
The commissioners took the suggestions under advisement. Their decision will be made at a public meeting but no more testimony will be accepted on this subject.
No date has yet been set for that meeting.