Landfill charges will be based on weight

Landfill operator Frank Faulhaber checks information on the computer for the landfill’s new scale- or weight-based system. New landfill rates took effect Wednesday.
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RBC I County officials are doing some trash talkin’, and with good reason.
Effective Wednesday, the county landfill — located between Rangely and Meeker on Highway 64, though closer to the Meeker side — will have new rates for commercial and residential customers and a new way of determining the amount of trash a customer brings to the landfill.
With installation of a new computerized scale at the Wray Gulch Landfill, the county is changing the way it charges for trash.
“We’re going to a new system, it’s based on weight,” said David Morlan, the county’s road and bridge director, who oversees the landfill. “The (old system) was based on volume, cubic yards. But there’s a lot of trash that’s not easily measured. This way, there will be no questions asked. It will be, this is what it weighs.”
The switch to a system of charging for trash based on weight versus volume is the way other landfills in the area operate, Morlan said.
“Most all of ’em,” he said.
The new system is not only more common, but it will be more efficient, Morlan said.
“The customer drives up on to the scales, the operator presses a button, the scale readout is put into the computer system for the gross weight, then the customer goes up and dumps his trash, then he comes back on the scale, and the operator sees how much (weight) he had, what the difference was,” Morlan said.
With the new system, customers, in general, shouldn’t see a big change in how much they pay to dump trash at the landfill.
“They won’t notice much difference on the average,” said Jeni Morlan, office manager for the county’s road and bridge department. “We still have to have the same amount (of revenue) to break even at the landfill, so we tried to come up with (rates) that are pretty much the same. Some (customers) will go up and some will go down, but the overall goal was to achieve the same revenue (as when the county charged by the cubic yard). We still have to have a certain amount to run the landfill.”
Mike Morgan of Rangely Trash Service said his costs will go up with the new rates.
“It’s going to affect us,” Morgan said. “It will take our costs from $13 a ton to $15 a ton, so it will go up $2 a ton for me, and then they tack on the $25 gate fee. The county is making the two haulers pay for the whole thing. With the economic times the way they are, I haven’t decided what I’m going to do.”
Scott Isenhour, area manager for Redi Services, which serves Meeker, said he originally anticipated the rate change would have a greater impact on his business.
“It’s actually going to turn out to be about the same for us on the residential trash,” Isenhour said. “We had anticipated it being more, but the rate scale will be substantially lower from what (the county) originally thought it would be. I think they did the community a great service. We will actually be able to stay the same (rates). There’s nothing we will have to pass along to the public.
“On the commercial, before we were getting charged for volume, so when we brought in a half-full roll-off, we were still getting charged for a full roll-off. So now we will just get charged for whatever we have in the roll-off. This way it will be more accurate; it will be by poundage.”
Rangely’s Morgan said he liked the county’s new scale-based system for weighing trash, versus the old method based on volume.
“That way it takes all the guesswork out of it,” Morgan said. “When I roll across the scale, a pound is a pound,” Morgan said.
However, Morgan’s expenses were less back when the county had two landfills. The landfill near Rangely was closed two years ago.
“Oh, yeah, then I’d only be hauling six miles, instead of the 32 or 35,” Morgan said. “But it was costing them money to run two landfills.”
David Morlan said it wasn’t economical for the county to operate two landfills.
“We closed it because we were not getting the volume of trash from the Rangely end to support two landfills,” David Morlan said. “If the volume ever came up from the Rangely end … and we could operate it at a break-even point, we could open it back up.”
The county’s aim is to operate the landfill as a break-even proposition.
“We’re definitely not for profit,” David Morlan said. “So we continually have to evaluate rates. But our goal is keep household trash as low as we can.”
“The good part about all of this is that we’ve achieved as little affect on the commercial haulers, therefore for the residential customers, the impact is minimal,” Jeni Morlan added. “We went out and visited (other landfills using a scale system), and one thing we’re doing that others aren’t to help alleviate the affect of the rates is we’re charging a gate fee to commercial haulers; it’s a $25 per truck fee to help offset (the charge to residential customers).”
The county has been testing the new scale-based system since February.
“That way we could get all of the bugs worked out,” David Morlan said.
“Just for comparison, the (landfill) operators have been using the new computer system, and then they handwrite every ticket (using the old system),” Jeni Morlan added. “That showed the customer what the rate would be once the new rates take effect July 1.”
Residential customers will be charged 2.9 cents per pound for self-hauled waste, under the new rates. Commercial customers will be charged $58 per ton, or $15 per ton (compacted), plus the $25 per visit fee.
“The bottom line is it will be better for everybody, period,” David Morlan said.