Powell, WY


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Powell eyeing Billings landfill for its garbage

Powell’s garbage may be making a trip across the state line.

City Administrator Zane Logan told the Powell City Council Monday night that city staff is investigating sending the city’s household trash — which is termed municipal solid waste (MSW) — to Billings.

Doing so could save the city between $120,000 and $140,000 a year compared to taking it to the Park County Landfill in Cody, Logan said. That could lead to lower garbage rates in a few years, he said.

Logan said it would cost $64.33 per ton to take the trash to Billings and return the empty city trailer, with Dick Jones Trucking of Powell hauling the trailer for $630 round-trip. That is based on paying Billings $26 per ton in a tipping fee, an out-of-state rate that will be discussed at the Billings City Council meeting on April 14.

The annual cost, including the tipping fees, transportation costs and wear and tear on the city trailer, is estimated at $321,943.90, according to a comparison sheet provided to the council Monday night.

Logan said city staff will not make a recommendation until Billings sets its out-of-state rate. If the Billings City Council agrees to that rate, he said he will recommend the city sign a contract with that landfill.

“Yes, I would,” Logan said after Monday’s meeting.

He told the council the cost would be $88.27 per ton to take the MSW to Park County, based on a $72 tipping fee with a six-year contract with the added transportation costs; $94.27 per ton based on a $78 tipping fee plus transportation costs over three years; and $106.27 based on $90 tipping fee for a one-year deal, with the trucking costs.

Based on the city disposing of 6,000 tons of MSW, the costs for using the Park County Landfill would range from $744,000 if the city used its own collection trucks and paid the highest possible tipping fee to $529,609.18 by signing a six-year contract.

Going to Billings would provide a $120,000 savings if the city hauls 5,000 tons there, Logan said, and a $140,000 savings for 6,000 tons, based on using an outside source to haul the MSW.

“And we’re running a lot closer to 6,000 than we are to 5,000,” he said.

The city has been taking its MSW to Big Horn County Landfill in Cowley, which charges $78 per ton, but that landfill has no interest in taking the garbage on a long-term basis.

Park County offered a rate of $90 a ton at the Cody site last year. This year, commissioners offered a rate of $72 a ton in exchange for long-term commitments. Without Powell’s trash, the other landfill customers, including the city of Cody and town of Meeteetse, will have to pay $78 per ton to make up the difference.

Powell has been struggling with the issue for several years, and this latest decision has been in the works since the county closed Powell’s landfill to large quantities of MSW in 2012.

In December, the Park County Landfill and the Casper Regional Landfill sent in proposals on accepting Powell’s MSW; neither Billings nor Big Horn County submitted a proposal.

Casper offered several options, which included, as a separate option, the price of hauling the MSW. While Casper offered an effective rate of around $48 a ton, but the cost of transporting the trash 240 miles to Casper made that offer more expensive than the long-term offer from Park County, numbers reviewed by the Tribune show.

In January, Mayor Don Hillman said the council did not want to act until the 2014 Legislature ended its work, in case landfill regulations were eased. The Legislature did pass a bill making it easier for unlined landfills — like the one in Cowley — to accept trash, but that doesn’t appear to have had any impact on Powell’s situation.

Logan had said at the time the proposals from Casper and Park County were received that Billings might yet express interest.

Public Works Director Gary Butts and Sanitation/Public Health Superintendent Darrell Rood went to Billings last week and met with Billings city staffers, including the deputy public works director.

“They took us around and showed us all the detail they do,” Butts said Monday night. “It is an impressive place, honestly. They have quite an impressive operation but at the same time they were also very friendly.”

He said they seemed eager to work with a new customer. The landfill is so large, what Powell takes in over the course of a year is equal to what it handles in a week, Butts said.

Billings has a policy to only do a one-year contract, but that does not mean a rate increase would happen each year, he told the council.

No requests for proposals were sought this time, and no other landfills were asked for figures.

“The people who had to set the rates were variable,” Logan said Wednesday, noting that Casper and Park County offered variable costs depending on how many years the service was contracted.

That wasn’t the case with Billings, which offers city, county, in-state and out-state rates, he said.

“It’s a posted rate, there’s no ‘make a deal,’ or ‘make an agreement,’ ” Logan said.

Park County commissioners indicated Tuesday that they will not lobby Powell officials in the coming weeks to choose the county’s offer over Billings.

“They’ve got to do what they think is best,” said Commission Chairman Bucky Hall of the Powell council, adding, “We may not agree with it, but it is what it is.”

Hall noted the council is responsible to Powell residents — about a fifth of the county’s population — while “we’re responsible to 100 percent of the people in the county.”

In a separate Tuesday action, commissioners accepted and applauded a commitment from private hauler Keele Sanitation to bring its trash collections to the county’s Cody landfill for the next eight years at $78 a ton.

“Hopefully more people will follow their lead,” Hall said.

On Tuesday night, the Cody City Council unanimously voted to commit to an eight-year contract with the county at $78 a ton.

One bid for hauling

In January, the city of Powell opened three bids for hauling services. Dick Jones Trucking, and Tri-Bell Industries, Inc., both of Powell, and PAB Good Trucking, LLC, of Greybull, submitted offers to the city. The firms were asked for quotes on hauling the MSW to both the Park County Landfill and the Casper Regional Landfill.

Only Dick Jones submitted a bid to haul the garbage to Billings, Logan said.

Last fall, the city opened a transfer station on North Ingalls Street near the Sanitation Department. Once there, the garbage is compacted and prepared to transfer.

“The city’s investment in that transfer station could be paid back in a few years,” Logan said Monday night.

That’s when customers may see a reduction in rates, he said Wednesday. The city invested more than $700,000 in that facility. Along with increased costs once the Powell landfill closed in September 2012, the Sanitation Fund reserve was drained, he said.

“We never increased when we had increased expenses,” Logan said. “We just ate that out of reserves. The savings will go to pay our half of the transfer station and build our reserves back up.”

He said an auditor will note this fall that there are no savings in the Sanitation Fund. The city needs to restore that and get back on its feet financially, Logan said.

“Then the council will look at rates,” he said.


  • posted by Josh Shorb

    March 21, 2014 7:38 pm

    This is Josh Shorb, City Councilman Ward III. My cell phone is 307-202-0133. Please call me with any concerns related to City of Powell issues. Thanks!

  • posted by Panther Fan

    March 21, 2014 2:05 pm

    Why should the city of Powell pay between $120,000 and $140,000 a year more to Park County just to "make nice". Why can't the County just lower the fees? If landfills all around us can do it for a lower price, why can't Park County? I would think the City of Powell would have a fiscal responsibility to it's citizens to save that amount of money if they could - that is ALOT of money!! It's funny to me that some of the same people who complain about what they perceive the city doesn't do for them, because of funding, are the same ones who think the city should pay all this extra money - for no really good reason. You have the same mentality that my kids did growing up - "Just Write A Check, you don't money"!!

  • posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    March 21, 2014 9:42 am

    Billings loves Park County money,just look at all the vehicles from Park and Big Horn county any day of the week in the parking lots around Billings.Even business owners from park County buy in Billings,I know I have seen them go through Bridger with loads of building materials and furniture from Billings.And I know who they were.Shop local my foot,hypocrites.

  • posted by clipstein

    March 21, 2014 8:20 am

    concerned where do you think the ones who say buy local are going?????? billings should put a sign up thanking park county for the business

  • posted by Concerned in the county

    March 20, 2014 12:50 pm

    So is this decision the general consensus or just those of the city administrator and council? Are they going to tell citizens of Powell and Park County to shop out of state in Billings too to save a few dollars?! I am all about saving money too, but to forsake relations with the locals to do it? Doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Someone is still holding a grudge it seems. Too bad, I had hoped our council was above such petty antics.

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