Effective Jan. 1, 2013, municipal customers will now pay $28.50 a ton
By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
The Seward County Landfill has not raised its rates for large municipal customers in eight years.
“Our large municipal customers have basically been on the same rate of $27 a ton,” said landfill supervisor Mike Tabor at Monday’s commission meeting.
Tabor said keeping that rate has not been an easy task.
“We had a lot of competition issues,” he said. “They were trying to divert waste to Garden City and take a lot of our business away.”
That plan proved unsuccessful, though, as Tabor spent much time in recent years attending city and county commission meetings throughout Southwest Kansas to maintain the usage of Seward’s landfill.
That work paid off, as the competition issue no longer exists with last year’s acquisition of the former Rural Waste Management of Optima, Okla. Tabor said the landfill’s plan was to stay the course.
“Our long term approach and strategy at that time was to stay where we were, provide good service, do what we did best,” he said.
In as many as a dozen area communities, competitors lowered rates to as little as $12 a ton, but despite this, none of the municipalities which use the Seward County Landfill stopped doing so.
“That says a lot about our service at the time,” Tabor said.
With expenses going up, however, the landfill had to operate on a tighter budget, and this meant making cuts to some items.
“Saving money, doing some equipment things different, not buying the capital improvement items that we didn’t absolutely need to make that work,” Tabor said.
The landfill supervisor said, however, that now is the time to change rates for municipal customers, and by a unanimous vote Monday, the commission did just that. Area entities will now pay $28.50 a ton to use the landfill.
Tabor said he would have liked to have changed the rate by as much as $3, but he said many communities are strapped for money at this time.
“Going up $1.50 right now and either another $1.50 next year or the year after at about 5 percent is probably going to make things work for everybody much better,” he said. “To go up $3 or nearly 10 percent, everybody’s going to have sticker shock.”
Tabor said a few issues with competition do exist in the Ulysses area, and he does not want to break the bank with the raise in price.
“We have some other rates we need to adjust before the first of the year,” he said. “We’re sitting down studying right now all of our processes to see what we need to raise, but this municipal rate is the one that’s going to make a lot of difference.”
Tabor said the $1.50 raise would bring in as much as an additional $125,000 a year to the landfill.
“That’s a nice chunk of revenue, and we’ve always promised our customers we would let them know at budget time what the rate would be for 2013 to give them a chance to budget for it,” he said.
Tabor said the landfill currently has a good cash balance.
“We’re still making money, but it’s taken some creative measures to do that,” he said. “It’s time to take a little bit of the burden off and move some things forward.”
The new rate will take effect Jan. 1, 2013.