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Illegal dumping still a problem; communities looking for solutions
Jan 25, 2013 - By Christina George, Staff Writer
As communities continue to deal with illegal dumping, the Fremont County Solid Waste Disposal District Board of Directors is considering ways to address the issue.
Shoshoni Mayor Scott Peters attended the Jan. 21 board meeting and asked if a solution could be made so municipalities are not footing the bill when taking waste that was dumped illegally in town to transfer stations.
"It's not a lot, but it does add up," Peters said about the estimated $1,000 to $2,000 the town pays a year to discard the waste.
He pointed out crews are finding more than house trash in public places; one crew found a refrigerator dumped at the school.
The solid waste disposal district last year implemented tipping fees and restricted operation hours at the county's transfer stations.
"From the town's standpoint, we don't mind the policy change, but we can't afford it," Peters said. "Is there any way we can come up with a way to assist the town when it comes to this?"
Board member Jeff Hermansky made a motion to waive the fee for any municipality that collects illegal dumping provided the community has investigative and prosecution processes in place.
"It doesn't have to be a huge thing," Hermansky said.
However, heavy discussion among board members and others later caused Hermansky to rescind his motion.
"I am not going to support my motion," Hermansky said. "It has ramifications beyond what I thought."
Board member Steve Baumann questioned if the issue should be addressed at the county level. He said the board's job is to run the landfills and anything beyond that is a citizen responsibility.
"I'm just thinking that it's not our problem," Baumann said.
Fremont County Commission chairman Doug Thompson, who serves as liaison to the waste board, said the commission
doesn't have the authority over the district board and its policies.
Board member Mike Morgan expressed concern that the overall problem countywide remains unknown.
Baumann said he would agree to a waiver if there were a way to track when municipalities have waived fees for dumping illegal trash.
"But if it goes on too long, I am afraid we are going to let the cat out of the bag ... people could rely on it," Baumann said.
Board member Gary Weisz said he understood wanting to track the situation, but does not feel waiving the fee would mean an increase in illegal dumping.
"I think you already have the people who don't want to pay (for) dumping their trash already," he said.
Baumann countered, saying it was not a question of people having integrity but rather what happens when something becomes free.
Thompson urged waivers be linked to stricter regulations to help curb those contemplating dumping their waste illegally.
Peters said the town is enforcing the rules, but the issue is those who break the law that can't be identified.
"I feel we are making this more complex than it needs to be," Hermansky said, adding that waiving the fee could be re-evaluated if it gets out of hand.
Board member Travis Brockie cautioned about setting a precedent by waiving the fees. Morgan argued the board would be extending to towns what it does for transfer stations on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
District superintendent Andy Frey said illegal dumping continues to be an issue on the reservation. Frey said he saw more than 100 loads of illegal trash at the station on 17 Mile Road during a recent visit. He said people are cutting fences and driving through to dump trash.
"It's a real problem out there," Frey added.
Bruce Levin of Wyoming Waste Systems said residents on the reservation are signing up for services through his business. He thinks illegal dumping in the area is coming from residents off the reservation in the Pavillion and Kinnear areas.
Wind River Environmental Quality Commission solid waste coordinator Ryan Ortiz said he thinks the situation on the reservation will stabilize once residents become aware of new operation hours at the transfer sites.
Regarding Shoshoni's request to waive the fee, Ortiz suggested money be applied toward dealing with the cause of illegal dumping.