Wisconsin Communities Consider Garbage Collection Fees To Help Maintain Landfills

Superior, Janesville Among Cities Looking For New Ways Of Generating Revenue

Rusty Clark (CC-BY)

Update: The Superior City Council voted 7-3 Tuesday evening to adopt a monthly garbage collection fee of $7.75, set to take effect next year.

Some Wisconsin communities that own and operate landfills, feeling stretched thin as they collect less waste, are examining new possible sources of revenue, including a garbage collection fee made possible in the state budget.

Under the budgetary change, a community that owns a landfill can propose or increase garbage collection tipping fees, “without having to reduce its allowable property tax levy by the amount of new fee revenue it receives,” according to Wisconsin League of Municipalities Assistant Director Curt Witynski.

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Superior is one city that’s eligible. Mayor Bruce Hagen said their landfill costs $6 million a year to run and is facing a million-dollar deficit.

“That’s a danger point, and it’s going to be a critical danger point because of lack of shared revenue increases, lack of other revenue streams,” said Hagen. “The general fund is having a difficult time surviving.”

Hagen said that the cost of maintaining the landfill means there’s less money for other “core services.” He said the city council would take up privatizing the landfill at a special meeting Tuesday night.

Janesville is another community that’s affected by the budget change. The city’s operations director John Whitcomb said they raised user fees to help pay for their landfill in recent years, but are now bringing in garbage from elsewhere.

“Through the first six months of this year, the city manager has now entered into five waste agreements with private hauling companies and two municipalities,” said Whitcomb.

Whitcomb said he expects the landfill will take in 40,000 more tons of garbage. As the city collects more waste, he expects the fee on residents to drop.