From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 4, Number 52 - March 24, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Commissioners discuss landfill charges for Teton County

by Bill Boender

The Sublette County Commissioners spent a full day in a general work session, with most of their time spent on the landfill and baler operation.

Nelson Engineering, Inc. of Jackson presented an analysis of past and projected future operating costs for the facility showing an estimated cost of $23.17 per ton for 2005 operations. Total tonnage processed this year is anticipated to be around 36,463 tons.

Of that total, about 90 percent is from Teton County, which pays $13.50 per ton to Sublette County for processing. This provides almost $500,000 in income to offset a total operating and replacement cost of some $845,000, resulting in a net cost to Sublette County of around $345,000.

Commissioner John Linn then presented his analysis of costs based on revised numbers with additional costs not included in the Nelson figures. Revised numbers were primarily based on equipment life spans. Five pieces of construction equipment given a life of 10 to 15 years by Nelson were calculated at five years by Linn. Linn also increased anticipated costs for engineering, labor and cell lining by nearly $175,000 per year.

The adjusted numbers from Linn would increase the cost per ton from the Nelson figure of $23.17 to a Linn figure of $33.80. Linn then suggested that Teton County be asked to carry a larger share of those costs, pointing out that Teton County charges $50 per ton at their transfer station in Jackson.

Linn also presented figures from other counties and states showing an average per-ton cost to dump of nearly $39 per ton, ranging from a low of $20 in California to a high of $56 in Campbell County.

Linn also pressed the board to add liners to all pits to contain any possible ground water contamination.

His analysis stated, "Teton County, with all the environmental attitude, should not have a problem understanding Sublette County protecting our ground water at all cost.

"The voters sent me here on this issue. Lots of people resent taking Teton garbage. We need to address this issue," Linn concluded.

Commissioner Bill Cramer responded to this information, stating: "We have inherent costs regardless of whether or not Teton County participates. Their participation adds economy of scale."

Cramer also commented that he would not want to subsidize Teton County but it would not be fair to pass on fixed costs of the facility, adding: "Basic costs occur just the same as our road and bridge department. We need Teton County to support what we have built."

Commissioner Betty Fear responded regarding pit lining: "I'm not an engineer or geologist, but my only choice is to operate as we are now unless DEQ requires some change. To spend $80,000 per year for liners is ridiculous if it isn't needed." Concerning a rate increase, Fear said she might consider discussing an increase if costs do prove to be higher than expected but could not, in good conscience, double Teton County's cost overnight.

The subject of employee wage increases was discussed with Travis Sour, Sublette County Road and Bridge superintendent, and Hank Ruland and Henry Schmidt of the Sublette County Sheriff's Office. Percentage increases, fixed-amount raises or bonuses all entered the debate with little consensus reached. Commissioner Fear asked that the subject be considered carefully and recommendations be prepared for upcoming budget meetings.

The purchase of a new Caterpillar motor grader and the disposal of an older John Deere motorgrader were discussed. Options included a buy-back, a trade-in or private sale of the older machine. It was determined that it would be advertised for sale with a minimum purchase price equal to the trade offer of $82,000.

Commissioners Fear and Cramer questioned Garry Eiden, Sublette County Rural Health Care Board member, regarding the status of clinic construction and were informed that the situation is at a standstill, pending further study and the arrival of the new director, Randall Johnson, on April 1.

The commissioners had previously committed to constructing a new ambulance barn adjacent to the Pinedale Medical Clinic and would like to proceed with their plan of giving the old barn to Tip Top Search and Rescue.

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