Solid waste board cuts hours at three county facilities

Apr 23, 2014 By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

The Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District Board has approved a raft of changes designed to cut costs, including reducing hours at the Riverton, Lander and Dubois solid waste facilities. Officials warned Monday that without the measures, the district would be in financial straits.

"We had a couple options. We could raise the rates, how much the consumer would pay, or we could try to reduce some of the services and try to keep the price what it is now," board chairman Mike Adams said in an interview. "With such a large deficit out there, what it's going to cost to close these landfills, we had to do something."

The Lander landfill, Riverton baling station and Sand Draw landfill currently are open seven days a week. A motion to close the facilities on Sunday and Monday passed without opposition.

The new schedule takes effect July 1.

"This saves us half a million dollars a year without any expense," board member Mark Moxley said about reducing hours. "This really goes a long way towards balancing our budget."

Engineers from Trihydro Corporation conducted an efficiency study and developed the cost-cutting options. Another report from the firm showed the district stands to lose $305,000 this year. At $6.1 million, its expenses exceed its $5.8 million revenue by about 5 percent.

Closing landfills

Saving money now to pay for closing local landfills in the future is a large expense, Adams said.

The Shoshoni landfill is due to close in 2018, the Lander landfill in 2023 and the Sand Draw landfill in 2061. The Dubois landfill has closed already.

"When it comes time to closing the landfills, we have to have a certain amount of money," Adams said.

Those landfills have to close because their permits are expiring, and once they do, they have to be capped.

New schedules

The board also authorized reducing operations at the Dubois transfer station and landfill to six hours a day and three days a week starting July 1. It is currently open eight hours a day, five days a week.

"The tonnages (of waste) we receive up there do not justify five days a week and two full-time staff," Frey said. "The volume the Town of Dubois is generating hardly matches the amount the Town of Pavillion is generating."

The new Dubois schedule would save money by having the same FCSWDD employees who oversee dumping transport the waste to a landfill on days the transfer station is closed.

The board did not decide on what days the transfer station would be open, but board member Mike Morgan suggested it be open on Saturdays to accommodate people who work.

Dubois's transfer station is open more than other such locations because it serves a larger population and accepts more types of waste than the others, Frey said.

"Whether there will be more (new measures) down the road, I couldn't tell you that right now, but with the policy changes we're making, it will help significantly," Adams said.

Unadopted changes

The board did not adopt all of the suggested measures.

One proposal that was not approved involved closing the transfer station in Hudson.

If the facility closed, Hudson residents would have to drive only eight miles to bring their trash to the Lander landfill, Frey said. The town's transfer station currently is open one day a week, and closing it would save $20,000, according to officials.

"It may be only $20,000 a year, but ... $20,000 here and there adds up," Frey said.

Several board members did not like the idea.

Board member Rick Klaproth suggested allowing the town's residents a chance to establish a group of volunteers, similar to the operation in Lysite, to keep the site open. In Lysite, trained volunteers have helped operate a transfer station for more than three months.

Board chairman Mike Adams questioned how far the board would go in that direction. For instance, the Missouri Valley transfer station also is only nine miles from the Shoshoni and Pavillion facilities, he said.

In the end, the proposal failed 4-3.

The board discussed holding public forums, meeting with municipal and county governments, and creating fliers to communicate the changes to residents. Dates for meetings have not been set.

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