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County pays back haulers at higher rate than sought

Wadena County commissioners accepted the solid waste committee's recommendation to continue hauling loads directly Perham but deviated from a recommended tipping fee discount for haulers -- actually increasing the amount the county will pay.

The discount will be $5 per ton, not the $4 per ton that was recommended.

The county spent an average of $11,096 a month during the first three months in 2009 to haul waste dropped off at the transfer station to its final location in Perham, Consultant Mike Gibson said. That number dropped to $5,900 a month in April and May after the transfer station was temporarily closed and haulers were instructed to take their loads directly to the incinerator in Perham.

Gibson said the county could save approximately $66,000 a year by eliminating the transfer station stop for waste already intended for the incinerator. The committee suggested the county modify the tipping fee for haulers so their cost would decrease from $59 to $55 per ton to account for extra miles traveled by some haulers, which would reduce the county's savings by $26,000.

Commissioner Rodney Bounds did not think the $4 reduction was enough to cover truck mileage and labor, he said.

"They're losing money," Bounds said.

The haulers were comfortable with the $4 reduction, Gibson said. They had not received any reduction since they first started hauling loads to Perham after the transfer station closing.

"Some of these drivers don't even have to go any further," Gibson said.

Commissioner Bill Stearns said it is only a mile or two difference for the Sebeka hauler to drive to Perham instead of Wadena. There is no difference in travel for Waste Management in Detroit Lakes because they just stop off in Perham on their way back, he said.

"It isn't costing them a cent more," Stearns said about Waste Management. "But they're going to pick up an extra $4 a ton for every ton they haul -- pure gravy for them."

The Staples hauler, fortunately, only has to make the trip once a week, Gibson said. City Dray in Wadena is the business most affected by the change and owner John Herr was the first one the committee talked to about the $4 reduction. If he is comfortable with it, the county should be comfortable with it, Gibson said.

"It would seem to me that the commission's concern is what's best for the county taxpayer and what's most economical and efficient, so that's what I'm trying to bring to the group," he said.

The committee also alerted haulers that the Perham Resource and Recovery Facility could raise the tipping fee to $71, Gibson said.

"In case you guys hear that you'll know that this was discussed with them prior to this whole process," he said.

Commissioner Ralph Miller said his reason for supporting a $5 reduction in the fee was quite simple.

"John [City Dray owner] and the people that service the county deserve the same benefits as the county," Miller said.

The board unanimously approved the $5 reduction retroactive to the time the transfer station was closed in March.