Landfill manager explains reasons behind tipping fee changes

Tyrrell: ‘Increases reflect actual costs’

Grand County Solid Waste Special Service District Manager Evan Tyrrell said new fee schedules that went into effect Sept. 1 were necessary in order to bring clarity to prices that cover the district’s costs to properly handle waste.

In a follow-up interview with The Times-Independent, Tyrrell said there were “a lot of gaps” in the previous fee structure that lacked specificity.

“The ambiguity was heavy and clarification was needed,” he said. He also pointed out that not all fees increased – some actually went down and others remained the same. More than anything, Tyrrell contacted the newspaper following a public hearing to raise the fees in August to offer an explanation behind the restructuring. “I was hoping for a more holistic and comprehensive review of our fee structure [during that hearing],” said Tyrrell.

A regional price comparison was conducted with waste entities in Utah, western Colorado and northern Arizona, he said. “We saw where we sat and some (items) stayed the same and some went down.”

What went up or down or stayed the same was based on the district’s cost to manage or facilitate the disposal of each commodity and the difficulties associated with handling those items. Waste profiles needed to be developed for special waste, such as materials containing asbestos that require special handling, which adds up to more work, more time and more wear and tear on equipment, said Tyrrell.

Other special items include electronic waste dropped off at the recycling center, antifreeze that will now be accepted at specific times, and items that contain mercury, such as light switches and light bulbs.

The cost to drop off wastewater biosolids increased “quite a bit,” due to the difficulty of handling – a nasty job – and the need to cover cells daily with six inches of dirt.

Construction demolition debris is another difficult-to-handle item, particularly concrete and asphalt because those items are extremely heavy, awkward, cause a high degree of wear and tear on equipment and can’t be broken down or compacted, causing a reduction in the lifespan of the landfills.

For Tyrrell, the previous fee structure lacked specificity and that resulted in the need to add new categories that had been “all lumped in together.”

The “economy of scale” also played a role in the costs, as Grand County is relatively isolated. While the public can bring a limited number of items to the nearby Moab landfill, only “franchise haulers” are admitted at Klondike. The increases were also implemented to encourage people to reduce their waste streams and to retain the Moab landfill as a resource for residents, something commercial dumpers were threatening as the facility has an estimated 10 years left in its lifespan. Klondike has an estimated 40 to 100 years left.

“The bottom line is, the increases reflect our actual costs,” said Tyrrell.

Find the new fee structure online at https://swssd1.org/.