Last month, after 24 years, the Marion County Board of Commissioners approved of increases in several types of waste disposed in Marion County. Tipping fees are charged to “tip” waste into a dump.
The Salem-Keizer Recycling & Transfer Station east of town and the North Marion Transfer Station near Woodburn, will see a $20 increase in the per ton tip fee for franchised garbage haulers. This will mean an increase for the garbage haulers from $67.45 per ton to $87.45 per ton, and at transfer stations from $87.45 per ton to $107.45 per ton. Licensed contractor waste will go up from $75.45/ton to $95.45/ton. At the Browns Island Demolition Landfill, rates for non-friable asbestos will raise from $30 to $75/yard and demolition materials will raise from $10.50 to $13.00/yard.
All increases will be effective October 1, 2016.
The reason for the hike is that funding for Marion County’s Environmental Services Department had dropped in recent years. Environmental Services, a widely valued county service, manages landfills, promotes recycling and education and provides EarthWISE certification for local businesses.
The department’s revenues have been generated for years from tipping fees and from income created at a fourth facility, the Covanta energy-from-waste facility near Brooks. At Covanta, waste is burned to create electricity, and metal is recovered to be sold. But neither electricity nor the facility’s metal is as valuable as it used to be.
Another funding loss came after a 2009 decision by the Marion County Board of Commissioners to make Covanta electrical revenues available to the board to do with as they saw fit. As a result, about $7 million of Environmental Services revenues were used to pay for repairs and lawsuits associated with the improper construction of the county building, Courthouse Square, in downtown Salem.
“Marion County has reacted to these economic changes by reducing non-essential services,” said Marion County Environmental Services in a press release on the proposed increase. Some projects and programs that were suspended include a metal recovery project, a popular school coordinator position, waste reduction community grants, a summer intern/scholarship program and a reduction of department’s advertising budget by more than half.
“Marion County continues to maintain a robust recycling program,” says Jolene Kelley, Marion County Public Information Officer.
Marion County ranks impressively in solid waste and recycling across the country. Only 8% of our trash is land filled; the U.S average is about 64%.
Environmental Services programs, says Kelley, “help Marion County remain a state and national leader in recovery and recycling.