Rome Public Services Director Kirk Milam requested the hike as part of a way to help cover the projected long-term expenses of the landfill, including those that come after it is closed.
The SWC provided the Georgia Environmental Protection Division the financial assurances necessary for a projected liability of $9.3 million for the closing cost of the landfill and $6.3 million for the post-closure care.
Milam said post-closure costs would be used to monitor the site for 30 years after it is filled in, as required by the EPD.
The SWC voted unanimously to approve the 2.5-percent increase, which would apply to all rates at the facility except for the ones pertaining to Allied Waste Systems, which is the landfill’s biggest customer and has a special rate per a contract agreement.
Milam has proposed that fees be increased by the same amount in each of the next five years.
“If our waste stream remains the same and we increase rates annually, we’re still talking about a $400,000 shortfall in post-closure costs,” Milam said. “Of course, that is at least 25 years out.”
If the Rome City Commission and Floyd County Commission approve the rate hike at their upcoming meetings, it would go into effect April 1.
“It’s only 2.5 percent because of a reluctance to increase fees and the need to be competitive,” Milam said. “There are other places commercial customers can go to dump their waste, so if we increase it too much our waste stream can go away, and then our revenue will be hit worse.”
Under the new fee structure, preferred haulers who bring in more than 1,300 tons a month could see a hike from $25.65 a ton to $26.30 a ton.
Rates for other commercial and residential customers also would rise. For example, the flat rate for dumping as much as 100 pounds would increase to $4.95 from $4.80, and loads as large as 250 pounds would go to $9.75 from $9.50.
Milam said the landfill, which opened in 1998, is taking in about 250 tons of waste a day — about half of what is needed to be considered an efficient facility.
“We were meeting that when we first opened, but it has backed off since then,” Milam said. “When we opened we had a 30-year landfill and now, we still have about a 30-year landfill.”
Projections show that 95,000 tons of municipal solid waste was disposed of in the landfill in 2012, with the annual disposal expected to exceed 146,000 tons by the end of 2017. The landfill is expected to reach capacity in 2031.
“I think the decision of how we handle the difference is very important,” Rome City Manager John Bennett said. “It’s not something that we want to sit on and pass to a future commission or elected board.”
In other action, the SWC approved two groundwater monitoring contracts for Berry Hill and Walker Mountain that will continue the services of Golder Associates for the next two years.
Combined, the contracts are for $132,000 and are not an increase from previous years’ contracts.
The Rome City Commission and Floyd County Commission will be asked to approve the contracts at their next meetings.