Houston-based Waste Management has performed an unexpected about-face Thursday by reducing Iris Glen Environmental Landfill’s $83, two-ton minimum to a $40.29 one-ton minimum fee which mainly affects the area’s “small haulers.”
The new rate is effective today.
Johnson City officials said Thursday that Waste Management, which operates Iris Glen through a contract with the city, made the offer after learning of the inconveniences caused a few months ago when the minimum rate jumped by about 400 percent.
The folks who load up their trucks and trailers after a small construction project, a yard cleaning or junk from an unproductive yard sale were hit the hardest by the rate hike and began going to sites in Carter County and elsewhere to avoid the cost.
There had been some doubt about whether the increase is justified, and an attorney for the city researched the contract and reported to City Manager Pete Peterson in October that the jump on Sept. 1 to $83 appeared to be legally valid. However, he also said the company, which operates the landfill, did not inform the city about the rate hike, which they must do 30 days before a rate adjustment, according to the 20-year agreement between the two entities — an agreement set to expire April 2012.
He announced the reduction Thursday, saying the company did so for small, private haulers in an effort to alleviate the financial burden of waste disposal for citizens and to help prevent illegal dumping.
“We got hold of them and told them it was creating a hardship on our citizens, and they actually were fairly quick to respond,” Peterson said. “We are happy to report that our business partners at Iris Glen, Waste Management, have reconsidered the recent rate increase. We appreciate their willingness to compromise.”
Public Works Director Phil Pindzola said the decrease did not require a lot of time and effort on the city’s part and conversations between the two parties was professional and cordial.
“It was one phone conversation, maybe a few meetings with our attorney and it was done,” he said. “Waste Management really does work with us well, and we have a great working relationship with the folks at Iris Glen. I don’t think the local folks knew when it came down.”
The company’s higher rate reflected a higher cost of doing business, and economic factors, Ken Haldin, Waste Management’s Southern Group spokesman told the Johnson City Press from Atlanta in late September. The increase was for private citizens, which fall under the “non-member” status, and the adjustment was consistent with similar adjustments made in the Tennessee area, he said.
Haldin also said that although prices at Waste Management facilities across Tennessee have gone up, each facility is governed by different circumstances, arrangements and agreements and no two facilities would necessarily see the exact same rate hikes.
Carter County Landfill has no minimum weight requirement and no charges for demolition materials above $42.50 a ton. Washington County also has convenience centers throughout the county that accept residential debris only.