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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The situation with the Dunn County Solid Waste and Recycling Program is becoming more complicated for the municipalities in Dunn County.
The Colfax Village Board spent a portion of the July 27 meeting discussing some options as an alternative to the county program, such as taking over the Colfax collection site, which the village currently owns, and purchasing the equipment from Dunn County.
Because of DCSW&R budget problems, caused in part by the bottom dropping out of the recycling market, the per capita fee for 2021 is expected to more than double.
Currently, for 2020, municipalities in the program are paying $23 per person for the year — $12 for solid waste and $11 for recycling.
Under the projected per capita for next year, with all of the current municipalities staying in the program, and with the collection sites being open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the fee would increase to $58 per person per year.
If some of the municipalities drop out of the Dunn County program, the per capita may not change much from the projected $58 because Dunn County Solid Waste and Recycling would be expected to have a smaller budget, with fewer “pull” charges and fewer tipping fees and may have some savings from no longer operating certain collection sites.
Currently, the City of Menomonie does not participate in the solid waste portion of the program but does participate in the recycling program.
Other municipalities that do not participate in the solid waste portion of the program are the Towns of Eau Galle, Hay River, Sand Creek and Stanton and the Village of Knapp.
Municipalities that do not participate in the recycling portion of the program are the Towns of Eau Galle, Hay River, and Stanton and the Village of Knapp.
The Village of Colfax sent out a survey to residents July 1 asking what services they use for solid waste and recycling, and if they use the collection site, which days and what hours do they prefer.
Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, said she is in the process of tabulating the results from the survey.
Dale Knutson, owner of Viking Disposal, and Chad Arendt of RightAway Rolloff out of Bloomer, also attended the meeting.
Knutson said Viking Disposal already picks up trash for two-thirds of the residents in Colfax and picks up all of the recycling.
The Town of Howard, in Chippewa County, has a drop-off site at the town hall and charges $3 per 30-gallon bag of garbage and $5 per 55-gallon bag of garbage, Knutson noted.
Arendt suggested that if the village were going to operate the collection site, the village should buy the compactor from Dunn County rather than rent it from the county.
Some municipalities pay for their program by selling the trash bags at a certain cost for each bag, he said.
If people pay enough for each bag, then the solid waste and recycling does not need to be put on the property taxes and the program can pay for itself, Knutson said.
Many of the municipalities that participate in the Dunn County program include the solid waste and recycling per capita in their tax levies and do not invoice residents for it separately. Since municipalities in Wisconsin operate under state-imposed levy limits, and most municipalities have a tax levy set at the limit, an increase in the per capita means the municipality has less money to spend on something else, such as road maintenance and equipment.
Dunn County has 22 townships, seven villages and one city.
If RightAway Rolloff was the hauler for the program, it would be single stream recycling instead of sorted recycling, Niggemann said.
RightAway hauls to the Seven Mile Landfill in Eau Claire and to other recycling facilities, Arendt said.
Viking Disposal hauls trash and recycling to the Dunn County transfer station in Menomonie, Knutson said.
Commercial haulers typically only collect the recyclable items the state mandates. Dunn County has a long list of items that are recyclable and are collected for recycling but are not mandated by the state.
If enough municipalities pull out, the Dunn County program will have to shut down, said Gary Stene, village trustee and also a supervisor on the Dunn County Board.
When asked what he would do if the Dunn County transfer station closes, Knutson said he would find another place to haul trash and recycling.
Residents of all the participating municipalities in Dunn County can take solid waste to any of the collection sites in the county.
Haulers charge a set fee per “pull” for taking a trash Dumpster or a recycling Dumpster to a facility and also a tipping fee per ton because the receiving facility charges a tipping fee.
The next step is to find out how many tons of trash and recycling are collected at the Colfax site each year so an estimate can be determined about what it would cost to run the site and what it would cost each municipality that would want to participate, Niggemann said.
Knutson noted when Dunn County closed the Colfax site on Wednesdays, as a way to help close the budget deficit, Viking Disposal picked up some new customers.
The Colfax Village Board approved a motion to table the agenda item pertaining to Dunn County Solid Waste and Recycling until the village board’s first meeting in August.
As per the agreement with Dunn County, participating municipalities must give 120 days’ notice they are pulling out of the program.
Municipalities would have to make their decisions by September 1 in order to avoid paying the new solid waste and recycling per capita fees charged by Dunn County on January 1.