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Tale of the tires: Could waste fees now go up?

You could call the tire pile ‘Mount Goodyear.’ Transfer station employees were surprised to see 62 irrigation tires dumped there. Most residents leave one or two tires. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

By Sarah Smith

Hubbard County commissioners are weighing a change in solid waste fees after a multi-million dollar farming operation recently dumped 62 irrigation system tires at one of the transfer stations.

The tires will cost the county $2,000 to dispose of, said interim solid waste manager Jed Nordin.

“Farmers are only assessed for household trash, not large tires,” Nordin told the board.

“It’s a loss,” he added. “We’ll pay to get rid of them.”

It raises another dilemma for the solid waste department – how to treat all property owners fairly.

According to Nordin, large farming operations have balked at higher rates, rather than paying a household rate for the farmstead.

“There’s no such thing as a small farm anymore,” commissioner Kathy Grell said.

Those large operations should be considered agri-businesses, Grell and Nordin suggested.

But board chair Cal Johannsen, who said he’s heard complaints from farming operations, said he doesn’t want the county’s state-of-the-art waste system to regress to the old days when farmers burned tires in their fields – or dumped them into the woods.

“It’s different if they’re bringing in scrap metal or something we make money on,” Nordin suggested.

But whether taxpayers should subsidize the agribusiness’ waste disposal is a thorny question.

Nordin proposed a number of fee schedules to the board, based on 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 percent fee hikes. They are based on use and volume of waste. For 2014, he’s seeking an 8 percent increase.

The fee schedule differentiates between residential, resorts and commercial users. Each of those categories has a sub-category.

Another fee schedule was proposed for tipping fees. The 2014 proposal asks for no increases.

The board said it would take the fee schedule under advisement.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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