Mayor Tom Carver shared a plethora of data he gathered in regards to solid waste with city councilmen at Monday night’s meeting, May 9.
Carver said the amount paid by the city to the county covers both residential and commercial costs for garbage, and the additional 15 percent the county wants to collect is not warranted.
Additionally, he said from the numbers he gathered it appears the county is not adequately funding the collection of solid waste from its own parcels and the costs associated with hauling it to the transfer station.
Finally, Carver said the city has been subsidizing solid waste for the county and that cannot continue.
“I want to bring the council up to speed on some of the data,” he said.
Carver said he spoke with St. Maries Waste Management with whom the city contracts to haul solid waste. On the high end, Carver said the city produces 100 tons of garbage per month.
Using figures from a letter the county sent the city dated March 14, Carver said the total cost for a single trip to Missoula costs approximately $2,009. The figures used included 34 tons at $34.45/ ton for a total of $1,171; 100 gallons of fuel at $4.75/ gallon for $475 and 11 hours of labor at $33.
Carver said fuel has gone up since March 14, but the cost was $4.75 back at the time of the letter. He said the $2,009 figure does not include wear and tear on the truck.
With 100 tons of garbage a month, and a load able to carry 34 tons, Carver said the city has about three loads that need to be taken to Missoula each month. Adding in $491 for truck and trailer wear and tear, Carver said a single trip costs about an average of $2,500. So, three trips each month would cost $7,500 or $22,500 per quarter.
“The last billing from the county totaled $30,968.68 or $8,468.68 more than our calculations,” Carver said.
Carver said the county currently levies .0003999 for solid waste, and this is taken out of the county taxes paid by the residents of St. Maries. He said the amount levied by the county was $45,944.39 in 2021. According to Idaho Code, .0004 is the maximum amount that the county can levy, Carver said.
Carver said records from Missoula shows Benewah County averages 701 tons each month. St. Maries’ 100 tons accounts for 14.3 percent of the total, “which is our calculation of the city’s portion of the solid waste shipped to Missoula.”
Carver said the county bases their calculation on population (based on 2020 census). St. Maries population, he said, at that time was 2,357. The total county population was 9,530 equaling 24.73 percent, what they were using for figuring of solid waste, he said. Based on the county’s calculation, the city’s solid waste share is $169,817.78, Carver said.
“Based on calculations the city’s portion should be, based off the 14.3 percent, it should be closer to $98,196.29,” Carver said.
Carver said the city charges residents $16.50 per month for solid waste or $198 per year.
“That’s enough to get it from the homes to the transfer station, and also from the transfer station to Missoula,” Carver said. “That $198 covers that whole process.”
The county charges $113 per year, which generates $323,180 per year.
“The county solid waste contract with J & E is approximately $335,000 per year,” Carver said. “It appears the county is not adequately funding the solid waste to the transfer station. So, they aren’t even funding enough to get it from the dumpsters to the transfer station.”
Carver said the county adopted a resolution in 1975 allowing for a 15 percent fee for the cost of burying commercial waste. Councilman Randy Saunders said the county no longer buries it. Carver said the city has not been paying the 15 percent fee for several years.
“Now the county wants to come back and say we are responsible for the 15 percent,” Carver said. “Of the 100 tons generated by the city, the amount paid by the city covers both residential and commercial costs. We should be looking at tonnage.”
Finally, Carver added the city pays J & E directly $840 each quarter for the Milltown dumpster for transferring the waste to the transfer station, recognizing citizens of St. Maries take waste there.
“So, what I’ve done here is, I’m not going to point fingers or anything else, I’m just going to enlighten the public and I hope the paper takes note. It’s just facts. It’s data. If we look at it, we’ve been subsidizing the garbage for years and I feel it’s time we stopped that,” Carver said.