Licenses required for waste haulers

ESCANABA — The Delta County Board of Commissioners unanimously voted to pass a new ordinance, which will change the rules for waste management in the county during its regular meeting Tuesday. The ordinance will require commercial haulers transporting waste in the county to have a license. It is an effort to maintain tipping fees at the Delta County Landfill.

Before the board’s vote, County Administrator Ryan Bergman provided some context on the ordinance.

“In early 2016, we created a work group to look at some of the issues at the (Delta County) Landfill — mainly financial,” he said.

Among other issues, this group looked at ways to maintain the landfill’s tipping fees even if the amount of garbage brought there continued to decline.

“Our biggest risk was not only just a general decline in garbage, but also garbage leaving the county,” Bergman said. Delta County has a flow control ordinance requiring garbage produced in the county to stay there; however, haulers have been able to avoid this by bringing garbage to Wisconsin, where it is considered interstate commerce and is no longer subject to the ordinance.

Delta County Solid Waste Management Authority (DCSWMA) Manager Don Pyle was present at the board’s meeting to discuss the new ordinance.

“We have been working a long time at this over a period of a year and a half,” he said. The ordinance was put together by Pyle, the DCSWMA, and a group of attorneys; the DCSWMA unanimously approved the ordinance last week.

According to Pyle, this ordinance will require commercial haulers transporting waste in the county to have a license to do so and will require businesses to use licensed haulers. The goal of the ordinance is to ensure that commercial haulers carrying waste produced in Delta County either bring this garbage to the county landfill or pay to bring it elsewhere.

“Basically, if you want to haul waste within the county, you are (going to) need to have a license,” he said. Licensing fees will be individually determined for haulers on a quarterly basis, and will be based on the volume of waste each hauler transports.

This ordinance is not expected to create expenses for any organizations or small businesses taking care of their own waste in the county. Instead, it is aimed at large businesses and non-profits using companies that transport waste out of the county, as this can indirectly result in higher tipping fees for county residents.

“What should end up happening with this is you take off some of that stress on our rates … this is basically designed so that we don’t have to raise rates,” Bergman said.

The new ordinance will go into effect on July 1, 2018.

“That gives us an opportunity to start sharing with people what we’re doing (and) how we’re doing it,” Pyle said.

In other business, the board:

– officially ratified Bergman’s hiring of incoming Delta County Airport manager T.J. Reid.

– approved an update to the county’s non-union benefits agreement. Employees covered under this agreement will receive five days of vacation time in their first year (with the exception of department heads, who will be given 10 vacation days in their first year).

– voted to accept an airport firefighter training grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation.

– entered into executive session to discuss two pending lawsuits with Prosecutor/Civil Counsel Philip Strom. No decisions on the matters were made after the board exited executive session.