Landfill fees going up in 2019

MCELHATTAN – Landfill dumping fees are going up in Clinton County in 2019, but so are employees’ wages.

The Clinton County Solid Waste Authority, which operates the Wayne Township Landfill at McElhattan, recently approved a preliminary budget for 2019 that includes $1 per ton disposal fee increases for Clinton and Lycoming county haulers.

That could ultimately mean higher garbage fees for residents and businesses indirectly serviced by the landfill through private haulers, but Jay Alexander, general manager of the landfill, said the fee increases should only mean about $100,000 per year in new revenue for the company.

“The rate for commercial haulers currently is $37.50 per ton. For next year, that is going up to $38.50 per ton. To put this in a little perspective, 20 years ago the landfill was charging nearly $57 a ton. Lycoming County is currently charging $42 a ton, and their rates are going up in 2019 as well. The changes are not that massive,” Alexander said.

Residential curbside recycling fees also are going up, from $42 to $48 a year, but Alexander insists that in parts of Clinton County, recycling fees are below 20 percent compared to residential trash bills, and that is “drastically different compared to the national level.”

Commercial curbside recycling fees will be $312 a year for weekly pickups, or $156 a year for biweekly pickups, according to Alexander.

“The main difference is processing a much larger amount of volume, weight, and processing a lot of different materials when it comes to commercial vs. residential rates,” Alexander explained.

“To clarify, the only rates that are changing effective starting next year are Clinton County Municipal, Lycoming County Municipal and Demolition, and curbside recycling,” said Marci Orndorf, the landfill’s administrative manager.

The following are 2018 fees that will continue in 2019:

– Standard size pickup truck, $20, (self dump only).

– Oversized pickup or pickup with trailer, $33 (self dump only)

– Dump truck, $49 per ton ($13.50 minimum).

– Per bag, $3.50.

– Appliances, free of charge.

– Freon removal (Clinton County), free of charge.

– Freon removal (out of county), $13 per unit.

Meanwhile, both full and part-time landfill employees will see an across-the-board, 3 percent cost-of-living increase in 2019.

“With the job market the way that it is, we want to be able to retain all the workers we have here,” Alexander said.

Authority member Jim Lovette revealed that this is the first such pay raise landfill employees have seen in seven years, though some staff have received merit-based increases.

“There has been a significant amount of work done by our staff, by everyone in this room. Everyone works as a team, and we have to make sure our employees are competitive with employees of other companies,” Lovette said at the authority’s Nov. 14 meeting.

“In natural gas companies and in similar industries, there is a distinction between the big guys and the little guys. Some pay their employees benefits, not all. We give our employees benefits, and we think they all do really good work,” Lovette said.

“We have good workers, and we would like to keep them here,” added authority member Jim Russo.

“A large number of our new-hire employees are referrals or people who have connections with someone else who works here,” added Alexander.

“This is a good place to work, and our staff does the recruiting for us. We need to slow it down and connect with our folks. They have brilliant minds, but are we doing our best to make our staff enjoy working here,” he asked.

“If we can’t retain leadership due to frustration, we have the same problem. We need every spoke of the wheel to be happy and enjoy working here, and we need to help them build that confidence. Our troops are our biggest asset … they will build the company and cultivate the next generation of leadership,” he said.

The authority’s budget projects revenue of $16,768,800 for 2019, compared to a budget of $13,400,000 for the year of 2018.

The budget accounts for $6,885,166.71 in total employee overhead, $6,772,135.31 in total operating expenses and $8,610,718.20 for total capital expenditures.

With $5,842,000 in proceeds from Bond Issue, the landfill reports a projection of 342,779.78 in carryover from 2019 activities.

Alexander reports that the landfill expects approximately $11,700,000 from disposal dumping fees, with a $600,000 estimate in selling mulch products, $350,000 in selling recyclable commodities, $2.5 million from hauling income from various transfer stations, and $500,000 from a landfill gas project to upgrade the field.

“September was a pretty good month in particular. We have been very successful. We had $1.4 million in sales, and $1.1 million in expenses, for a total profit of $300,000. We are doing well,” Alexander added.

The landfill is undergoing an expansion of its dumping fields back to the north side of Route 220.

The north side is divided into 12 dumping fields. Three are constructed and opened, and the landfill is working on excavating a fourth, and anticipates installing a liner in 2019, said Orndorf.

The board also learned that 700 local high school kids recently were involved in a Pennsylvania College of Technology program to lure kids to get involved in the industry.

“It gives them a taste of the industry. It is hands-on and exposes them to the reality of the job and prepares them for careers at the landfill. We are experiencing a difficult time trying to fill skilled labor jobs. The sooner these students commit, the better. The landfill can provide great careers that pay well. We have a lot of jobs that are in high demand. It is a great opportunity,” Alexander said.

Board members include Terry L. Weaver,chairperson; Ernie F. Peterson, vice chairperson; William E. Kellander, secretary; Fred E. Beury, treasurer; Linda Leonard, assistant secretary-treasurer; along with Lovette, Russo, Bruce W. Peters, James H. Maguire, and county Commissioner Pete Smeltz, who is authority liaison.