La Plata County will not close trash transfer stations in Bayfield and Marvel after all.
In August, La Plata County commissioners questioned what role, if any, the county should play in funding the transfer stations.
La Plata County does not provide trash service for individual residents, but it has offered two transfer locations, where rural residents can drop off their trash and a third-party contractor then takes it to the Bondad landfill, south of Durango.
But commissioners a few months ago took issue with the county paying about $65,000 a year to WCA Waste Corporation to operate the transfer stations, on top of the $6,000 to $7,500 a year WCA keeps from the fees collected at the sites that residents pay to dump their trash.
Commissioner Gwen Lachelt in August said given the county is looking to cut where it can amid years of budget declines, and that providing the transfer stations is not a statutory requirement, it may be time to rethink the county’s role in the service.
“It’s a great service the county provides ... but we’re subsidizing trash and we’re not in the trash business,” she said. “So it doesn’t really make sense from any way you can possibly look at it.”
In light of the fact the county’s contract with WCA to run the transfer stations expires at the end of 2019, commissioners tasked county staff to come up with a better agreement that saves the county money.
It appears a solution has been reached, albeit a stopgap one.
The county put out a bid for companies to run the transfer stations on a three-year contract, but for the third time in a row, WCA was the only one to respond. Phoenix Recycling, according to county staff, said the job is not cost-effective, and Waste Management said three years is not enough time to turn a profit.
WCA, however, is proposing to reduce the amount it charges the county from $65,000 a year to $48,000. In turn, WCA would slightly increase fees to residents for dumping trash.
And, for the first time, residents will be charged to dump yard waste, with the fees going directly to the county, which is estimated to bring in about $6,000 a year.
The total $23,000 or so in savings from last year, while a positive step, doesn’t accomplish the amount of cuts expected in the program, county commissioners said Wednesday.
The county agreed to proceed with WCA’s proposal in 2020, but to re-evaluate the contract for 2021, with the hopes of finding a way to solicit more competitive bids from other companies.
Commissioner Julie Westendorff stressed the need to find a solution that reduces costs to the county, while at the same time, keeps transfer stations open for rural residents.
“There’s a history of what happens when there’s no place to take your garbage,” Westendorff said. “Then every place becomes a place to take your garbage. So keeping that open has a value to the county residents.”
Other changes in 2020: furniture, car batteries and oil will no longer be accepted. Though residents will now be charged to dump yard waste, dropping off mulch will still be free.