Something smells at Iris Glen Environmental Center, and it’s not the methane coming from the landfill. No, it’s the whopping hike to the tipping fees city residents and others must now pay to use the facility. As Press staff writer Gary B. Gray reported in Thursday’s paper, the cost to dump increased last month from a minimum of one-half ton and a roughly $15 fee to a 2-ton, $83 minimum.
This fee applies to so-called “small haulers” — people who load up trucks and trailers to dispose of residential construction debris, junk from the garage or like refuse. City Manager Pete Peterson said last week the company the city contracts to operate the landfill, Houston-based Waste Management, is within its rights to increase those fees.
Even so, Peterson said the company may not have properly informed the city of the hike as required under an operational contract first approved in 1992. That agreement requires Waste Management to notify the city within 30 days of a rate adjustment.
We first learned of the hike last week after being contacted by residents who were shocked by how much the tipping fee had increased. Company officials said the increase is consistent with similar adjustments they have made at other facilities in Tennessee. Maybe so, but it seems to us the company could have done a better job of explaining the reasons for the hike to both city leaders and city residents.
We hope city commissioners will keep this is mind when the operational contract with Waste Management comes up for renewal in April. Perhaps it’s time for the city to explore other options, or at the very least, consider adding language to a new contract that holds the operator financially liable for not meeting the terms of the agreement.
The way this incident was handled should never be repeated. Sudden and significant increases to tipping fees often have an injurious impact to the environment because they can lead to illegal dumping. We already have enough irresponsible people dumping tires, furniture and construction debris in places where they shouldn’t.