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City seeks bigger voice in county solid waste picture
Jul 15, 2014 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer
Members of the Riverton City Council requested more communication from the Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District during a regular meeting this month.
Andy Frey, superintendent for FCSWDD, spoke during the council meeting about changes his group implemented this year in an attempt to save money. One change in particular will impact the Riverton community: a reduction in hours at the local baling station and the Sand Draw landfill.
Instead of being open seven days a week, Frey said the facilities now will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.
"We've understood those changes do impact what you guys are doing, (so) we're allowing you guys until the first of the year to fully implement the change," Frey said. "It sounds like you're working on a solution long-term."
In May, the council approved a four-day-per-week operating schedule for sanitation services to accommodate the change by the FCSWDD. The city also wanted to eliminate alley dumpsters and require all residential customers to use curbside rollout containers.
Council members reconsidered the changes in June, asking staff to look into several other options, including a 10-hour daily work schedule for streets and sanitation employees, alley pickup for rollout containers and privatization of in-town trash service.
Frey said the FCSWDD has been open to working with the City of Riverton, but some council members said they would have liked more communication from the district before the changes were made to solid waste disposal service.
"We are your major funding stream in Riverton," Councilman Jonathan Faubion said. "To me it wasn't appreciated to not be spoken to before now."
Frey suggested a council member could act as a liaison for the city at FCSWDD meetings.
"(That would provide) an opportunity for more open dialogue," he said.
Mayor Ron Warpness said the council would prefer having a voting member on the FCSWDD board.
"We feel (that's) not an unreasonable request," he said.
Frey noted that there will be three vacant positions on the FCSWDD board Jan. 1; members are appointed by the Fremont County Commission.
In his report to the city council, Frey outlined several steps anticipated to save the district $10 million over the next 20 years. In addition to the Riverton baling station and the Sand Draw landfill, the Lander landfill will only be open five days a week, Tuesdays through Saturdays.
The district also has reduced the days and hours of operation at the Dubois transfer station and landfill from five days to three days. The facility now will be open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Finally, the Sand Draw landfill only will accept construction and demolition waste.
Councilman Rich Gard asked about the new hours of operation.
"When does the average guy that works go to the landfill?" he asked. "You have banker's hours set."
Frey pointed out that the open hours include Saturdays.
"The common person, we anticipate, will use the site Saturdays, which is why we structured it the way we did to continue to allow a weekend date," he said.
Gard wondered whether the facilities could be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Frey said he could mention the idea to the FCSWDD board, but he didn't seem optimistic about the prospect.
"I don't really see that that would be something they would adopt," he said. "But we can certainly look into it."
Another set of changes are expected to save the FCSWDD $62 million over the next 20 years. First, Frey said the district will change its method for burying garbage.
"This involves placing it in the landfill loose and then compacting it with waste compaction equipment, rather than baling the waste prior to placement in the landfill," Frey wrote in his report to the council. "Compacting waste in this manner is in line with the industry standards and saves landfill space."
During the meeting, Frey explained that the baling stations still will be used to process recyclables, and the City of Riverton will be allowed to continue using the local baling facility.
The FCSWDD also plans to divert all household trash or municipal solid waste from the Riverton area to the Lander landfill.
"This will maximize the available airspace within the boundary of the Lander landfill prior to the state mandated closure in 2024," Frey said in his report.
The closure, which is required by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, will cost the FCSWDD $6.2 million, Frey said. To date, the district has set aside $2.6 million for the project.
Lastly, Frey said the district is redesigning the cover system on its closed landfills to save money.
If all of the changes aren't made, Frey said the FCSWDD would have a $16 million deficit within 20 years.
The district operates 21 facilities, including landfills, bale stations, recycling centers and transfer stations in an area that has a population of about 42,000 people. Its annual operating budget is about $7 million, half of which is generated by a 3 percent mill levy. The rest comes from tipping fees paid by customers.