Even with no recycling plan in the future, residents are likely to see a jump in waste removal if fees proposed by the V.I. Waste Management Authority at a Public Services Commission hearing Thursday on St. Croix are approved.
So-called tipping fees will be imposed on customers using the landfills on St. Croix (Anguilla), St. Thomas (Bovoni) and St. John (Susannaberg) and are necessary to fill the funding gap between the VIWMA’s budget, government allocations and the cost of running the authority, said Steven Aubin, the authority’s chief operating officer.
The proposed charges are per ton of waste and begin at $31.28 for sand, soil and fill waste. Scrap metal, appliances and similar items would cost $39.15 per ton and household and green waste will run $52.13. The charge for construction material, asphalt and mixed trash will be $65.26 a ton.
Customers will be able to set up 30-day accounts and pay with credit and debit cards. No cash or checks will be accepted.
James Bates of Bates Trucking was the only consumer at the St. Croix hearing. He said he charges about $120 to deliver an empty bin and remove it with its waste to the landfill. The bins can hold as much as 20 to 30 tons and he estimates would cost him about $2,000 to dispose of green waste.
“The price is way over what we charge,” he said.
Loren Kleeger, chair of the PSC meeting and hearing examiner, asked if VIWMA would consider phasing in or reducing the fees.
Aubin basically said “no” that the fees are fair.
“The system is designed so the people who generate the trash pay the fee,” said PSC consultant Aubrey Williams who pointed out that stateside residents are used to paying for curbside removal.
The fees will be implemented if and as soon as they are approved by the PSC and should generate $6.9 million annually and then an application for similar charges to customers who use curbside-pickup, bins and transfer stations will be proposed next quarter. The second phase would bring in $3.7 million.
The charges would cover the costs of waste disposal such as contractor fees that include managing the transfer stations, separating and baling waste, as well as receiving and compacting trash at the landfills, according to Aubin. The contractor fees comprise 91 percent of the operating expenses he said and the rest would cover personnel, supplies and utilities.
Williams said, “Practically every jurisdiction has a tipping fee … based on weight or volume.” The common range of stateside fees is between $45 and $68, he added. Residents of Guam, another U.S. territory, pay $171 per ton.
St. Thomas and St. John hearings were held earlier this week and last. Kleeger said his report from the three hearings and Williams’s report will be submitted to the commission before their April meeting. A decision is expected at the meeting.
The VIWMA application and reports can be found at http://www.psc.gov.vi/dockets.html.