Park County’s leaders will aim to raise revenue by charging out-of-state residents four times more than what they previously paid to dump construction and demolition waste at their landfill in Clark. The purpose of the move is to try and cut deficits at the landfill while prioritizing serving Clark residents.
“They’re trying to look out for the Clark residents rather than the out-of-state folks,” Park County Engineer Brian Edwards said.
Edwards said, to his knowledge, the landfill serves more Montana residents than those from Park County, and he and other landfill staff suspect the majority of construction and demolition waste comes from Montana residents.
On May 18, the Park County commissioners unanimously voted to increase the rate for dumping construction and demolition waste at the facility from $9 to $20 per cubic yard for local residents, and $40 for out-of-state residents. Both groups of people had previously shared the $9 rate.
The new rates will run on a trial basis for six months and will be re-analyzed at the end of the year.
The Clark landfill is about 10 miles from the Montana border. Edwards has no exact statistics on how many Montana residents use the facility per year.
Greg Palmersheim, Park County landfill manager, said these individuals have the option of going to landfills in Billings or Columbus, Mont., “where the rates are significantly higher,” but Billings only charges $21.44 per cubic yard for construction and demolition material to Montana residents and $14.89 for City of Billings residents. Columbus determines its rates for dropping off construction on a pickup load basis, charging $12 per bed of materials and $6 for a half-load.
A major reason for the rate change is the fact that the Clark landfill ran a roughly $47,000 deficit last year and many, like Park County Commissioner Joe Tilden, saw the landfill’s prices as subsidizing out-of-state clientele’s needs.
“It was costing us money so people from Montana could do business,” Tilden said.
Edwards said the county will increase its tracking of customers to survey the effects of the rate-hike on the public’s purchasing decisions.
Still, the rate increases will only drop the landfill’s deficit to about $30,000, assuming the rate increases more than double revenue.
“It’s not a money-making opportunity,” Palmersheim said.
Edwards said the landfill would have to charge $40 per cubic yard to all visitors – resident and non-resident alike – to break even.
“If we do that we’d probably lose half the business anyway,” Tilden said, mentioning his desire for the county to consider closing the landfill to the general public altogether and rely on private sector servicing.
Commissioner Dossie Overfield was leery of this idea.
“I wonder where the breaking point is between people starting to dump in places we don’t want them to if we don’t give them an opportunity of some kind rather than contract use,” she said.
Commissioner Lloyd Thiel said putting more costs on non-residents “that don’t contribute in any way to Park County” should be considered. Even with the new rate changes he doesn’t expect the landfill to break even.
Construction materials include materials like drywall, wood, metal and styrofoam. No other types of waste will get a rate increase at this time.
The landfill will determine a dumper’s residency status by the license plate on their vehicle.
“If a Wyoming resident shows up with a Montana vehicle licensed to them then they should consider licensing in Wyoming or pay the out-of-state rate for the landfills,” Thiel said.
The rates will go into effect on July 1.
“Let us do a little public outreach on it because we will catch some heat about it,” Edwards said.
Discussion also took place at the May 18 meeting about increasing fees at the county’s sewage wastewater sewer lagoons due to its nearing capacity and a suspected belief that it is also losing money, but the board decided to collect more information before taking any action on the topic.