Mayor Warman

Mayor's Blog - 2015 Blogs

Columns written by Mayor Tyler Warman in 2015, on a wide range of topics, including town council information, upcoming events, important budgetary issues, and local attractions. His blogs can be found here, and published in the Lakeside Leader the Wednesday after it appears online.  

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Sep 27

Lets Talk Garbage

Posted on September 27, 2017 at 3:17 PM by Jordan Schenkelberg

One of the most important things municipalities really need to do well, but nobody really seems to care about is garbage.
Back in the day garbage was something we took up the hill and stuck in a hole.  When the hole got full we buried it and started a new one.  The process today hasn’t changed a whole lot, but there are definitely things we have added over the years. 
Recycling has been a huge thing for many municipalities over the years our own landfill does an outstanding job of recycling. First off why recycle?  Anytime we can divert garbage from going in the landfill it extends the life of our cell (hole in the ground) and helps delay cost.  A cell costs about $1.4 million to produce.   The other advantage of recycling is sometimes we can sell off those materials and recover some revenue.   Recycling is not the only thing we do different in legislation over the years have required us to do a better job catching our leachate (water in our landfill).   This water can become very toxic depending on what it’s mixed with.  Now we have to collect and test this water all the time.  Sometimes the water is ok and we can just pump it back out into the environment but, more than likely it is not and has to be hauled away by truck and disposed of. 
We sometimes have to buy new equipment (packers and cats), that we use to compact and move the garbage around.  The end result is the operation costs money.
The town and the MD do a great job of working together on things.  Everything is not always setup as theirs and ours, as we provide many of the services together.  Sometimes, one operates it (Fire Service) and charges the other back.  Sometimes, (like the Visitor Information Center) we take turns running it.  Other services like Library, Airport and Waste operate as their own independent entities. 
Our Landfill is operated by a waste commission.  The commission is its own entity and operates independently of the town or MD.   They own the landfill and all its assets, but also pay all the bills to operate it.  The point is that it has to be self-sustaining.  That commission hires a manager and staff to look after it and is then run by a board that consists of six elected officials (three from each municipality). 
So in order for this entity to operate, it has to generate enough revenue to cover its expenses.  When determining the actual cost of something, we have to factor in operating costs, as well as replacement costs.  We can collect enough money to pay wages, buy fuel, pay insurance etc., but if we don’t collect money to pay for the new packer when the old one quits working, we are not actually collecting enough money. 
With that said, when looking at this year’s budget, it became very apparent that the landfill is currently not collecting enough money to operate both now and in the future.   In fact we are about 30% short, which equates to about $300,000.  Some of this comes from operational costs changing as well some is to put away enough money to replace our equipment when it comes time.  To make up this difference we have two options, just subsidize from the tax base, or make the users pay for what it actually costs.  The commission decided the ones who are creating the cost should be the ones that pay.  Who are the users?  Residents, commercial businesses, and sometimes we take garbage from outside our own municipalities for various reasons. 
So we created new rates that will see out of town users paying way more, and residents will see a very small increase on their bill.  Commercial users will see a significant increase (about 15%) this year.  This is largely due to the fact that they produce the largest portion of the waste.  To be truthful the increase should be about 30% but we are going to split it over two years, 15 per cent this year and 15% next year.  It’s definitely a tough pill to swallow and nobody likes seeing something like this, but we have to charge rates based on what it actually costs to operate. This is good planning, its good decision making and overall it is good for business.  In the meantime we are also going to look at the operation and see what we can do to run more efficiently.  Next year when we sit down and do the budget again, I will provide you with an update to show you where we are at.