Meeting looks at future of landfill

LYON?COUNTY – Commissioners from several area counties discussed the future of the Lyon County sanitary landfill, from planned construction projects to tipping fees, during an annual meeting of the landfill’s regional advisory board Thursday night. Speakers at the meeting said increasing fees over the next few years will be important to keep the landfill from running in the red. However, Lyon County commissioners said they wanted to hear more feedback from other counties before taking any action to set tipping fees.

Lyon County Environmental Administrator Paul Henriksen gave board members an update on the landfill in 2013. He said the landfill is looking at receiving between 46,000 and 47,000 tons of trash this year. This year, the landfill has also bought some new equipment, including a flatbed truck and other work vehicles.

However, Henriksen said bigger landfill projects were on the horizon, as the current open portion of the landfill fills up with trash.

“The biggest project is we will be building a new cell next summer,” he said. The new cell would cover about eight acres and be located just to the west of the cell currently in use. The landfill is currently going through the state permitting process and planning stages for the project. Henriksen said the new cell would have a life expectancy of six to eight years, similar to the current cell. That means planning for the next cell after that would likely begin around 2020 or 2021.

The expansion project made up the biggest expense on the landfill’s requested 2014 budget, at $2 million. The budget request allowed for an estimated revenue of $2.3 million and expenses of $4.1 million in 2014. Henriksen said the budget request assumed about the same amount of garbage coming into the landfill as this year but took into account greater revenues from recycling. He said the landfill has been making more money from recycling items like tires and appliances.

Randall Sippell, of engineering firm SAIC, presented commissioners with an analysis of tipping fees for waste deposited at the landfill. The landfill’s current fee is $39 per ton of solid waste, with a surcharge of $7 per ton. In order to keep from running at a deficit, Sippell projected that tipping fees would need to be at $45 per ton by 2019. He said there were a few different ways the landfill could end up at that amount – in one example, the fees could go up $1 in 2014 and then be increased biannually to reach $45.

Commissioners didn’t have much objection to the idea of increased fees. At $45 per ton, the Lyon County landfill would still have much cheaper tipping fees compared to some other landfills in the state, they said. However, Lyon County commissioners said the proposal should be brought back to other counties served by the landfill, too.

“The decision-makers in other counties need to have these conversations,” said commissioner Steve Ritter. Ritter said he would also like to hear feedback from other counties in the region, as the board considers whether to increase fees.