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Solid waste district eyes personnel savings

Jun 15, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Cost-cutting measures already implemented this year include reducing facility hours, switching to compacting trash, and sending all household trash to the Lander landfill.

Along with a host of policy changes designed to save money, the Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District Boards is considering reducing personnel expenses to cut costs.

Some personnel could be affected.

The district is operating with 28 employees, but in the current fiscal year it budgeted for 34, district superintendent Andy Frey said in an interview.

A report from consultants at Trihyrdo Corporation detailed how the district could save money by adopting various policies. All together, the changes could allow the district to eliminate as many as 10.6 full-time equivalent positions from the baseline of 34, the engineers wrote.

All together, the cuts would save more than $600,000 per year.

"There's no decision that was made," Frey said in an interview. "We're looking at all options."

Some district board members showed interest in reducing the staff size, and Frey did as well.

In a monthly report to the board, Frey recommended a staffing level of near 26.5 full- time equivalent employees, about 1.5 fewer workers than the current level.

"For me it would be helpful to know why we're not dropping down closer to the 24 number rather than 26," asked board member Mike Morgan at a meeting in May. He was referring to a staff size reflecting all of the reductions Trihydro laid out as possibilities.

Frey thought the two and half positions were necessary, at least for the time being.

"I think we should be allowed a little flexibility. I think long term we could certainly have that goal (of reducing costs further), but I believe in my opinion we need the staffing," Frey said.

Several board members voiced their support for Frey's position.

Changes adopted at an April 21 included reducing facility hours, switching to compacting trash, and sending all household trash from around the county to the Lander landfill to maximize its use before it closes in 2023.

The policies are expected to save the district about $16 million. Officials say they need to save money to pay for capping landfills set to close in the next 10 years.

In an interview, Frey said the changes could allow for fewer staff than the 34 in the current budget.

"Keeping in mind we are reducing our services as adopted at the last meeting (on April 21). The number of employees needed reflects on the amount of services provided, that's how some of these (personnel) changes are being absorbed," he said.

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