County Board, on Split Vote, Approves Solid Waste Tipping Fee


Published on November 19 2012 10:28 pm
Last Updated on July 14 2013 12:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Effingham County should be seeing an upturn in its recycling efforts in the near future.  County Board members Monday, on a 5-4 vote, approved instituting a solid waste tipping fee.

The tipping fee, charged on solid waste disposed of in local landfills, is designed to generate funds to foster recycling efforts.  The maximum fee that could be charged is $1.27/ton.  That fee, though, was not decided, nor were any other details of an expanded recycling program.

A tipping fee in Effingham County has been discussed and debated for more than a decade.  While there is some recycling in the City of Effingham and a program in Teutopolis, most of the county is without an organized recycling program.  The issue has been reviewed by the Board's Public Health Committee in general and by the Effingham County Health Department specifically.  It even came to a vote by the County Board in recent years, but lost by a 5-4 margin.  On Monday, that margin was reversed in favor of the fee.

Retiring County Board Chairman Carolyn Willenburg, retiring Vice-Chairman Bob Shields, and retiring member Larry Vahling, in their last regular meetings on the Board, voted for the tipping fee.  None of them sought re-election earlier this month.  Also voting for the fee were members Karen Luchtefeld and Jeff Simpson.  Members Jim Niemann, Rob Arnold, Wayne Russell and Dave Campbell voted against the fee.  Monday also marked Russell's last regular meeting on the Board.  He also did not seek his own term after being appointed to the Board to fill a vacancy earlier this year.

Brian Hayes of Landfill 33 spoke at length against implementing a tipping fee.  Hayes said the fee could harm the family-owned business here for more than 30 years.  He said tipping fees are usually enacted to make it more attractive for landfill operators to locate in certain areas, but not in this case. 

Hayes said he'd sit down and negotiate a host fee when the time is right, but said this is not the right time. 

Some of the board members who voted No on the tipping fee question agreed.  Niemann said he is all in favor of recycling, but said the tipping fee is a new tax in bad economic times.

In explaining his vote in favor of the fee, Simpson said recycling is not available everywhere in the county and the proceeds from the fee could help expand the program.

Bill Elving, who helped originate the P2D2 program that has led to collection of unused drugs rather than seeing them flushed into the sewer systems, spoke in favor of expanded recycling, saying if you get behind a recycling program, it could cut landfill costs.

Hayes disagreed and said if people suggest the landfill pass along the increased cost to their customers, they should remember that most of his customers are local, too.

The tipping fee was not the only item on which there was a split vote Monday.

The Board voted 5-4 to approve the fiscal year tax levy, with Arnold, Russell, Campbell and Niemann voting No since it involved an increase in rates, and Russell voted against the budget passed for the coming fiscal year.

The Board reversed field, though, on the 911 intergovernmental agreement  with the City of Effingham and the 911 Board, voting 9-0 to approve the measure calling for 911 to pay the same amount as in the past to both the City and County, allowing 911 to pay for an efficiency study of the system, and then increasing the payments in subsequent years.  The vote on the issue last month ended in a 4-4 tie with Shields absent.

After much discussion, the Board approved a two-year extension of Terry White's ambulance contract with the County.  White said the extension would enable him to obtain equipment the Board's Ambulance Oversight Committee has encouraged him to acquire.  Arnold abstained from the vote since he does work for White.

The Board awarded property/casualty insurance coverage to CIRMA for $205,858; and renewed health insurance coverage with Health Alliance at a 5% premium increase.  Also approved was the salary schedule for non-union county employees.

Board members also awarded a bid to Merz Heating and Air-Conditioning for an air conditioner for the IT Room for $5,400; appointed Jackie Witges to a two-year term on the County Board of Health; and approved resolutions allotting Motor Fuel Tax funds for road maintenance and for the salary of County Engineer Greg Koester for 2013.

The Board also took time to honor Anna Sophia Keller of the St. Anthony/Sacred Heart junior high team for a state championship this fall in cross country.

Also Monday, County Clerk Kerry Hirtzel told the Board that he'd be canvassing the election ballots on Tuesday, and reminded newly-elected county officers that the Board's reorganizational meeting would be held December 3 at 4pm.

The last meeting of the current Board will be Thursday, November 29 at 4pm to close out the books on the fiscal year.