A program to monitor the borough’s 13 trash transfer sites will be launched this summer. The Fairbanks North Star Borough plans to hire a manager and an officer to educate users about what is allowed at the collection places. Public pressure to have someone monitor the transfer sites for safety and sanitation was considered with trying to save the borough money. The Borough Assembly approved the funding after reducing the staff from three people to two. The new officers, when the program starts later this summer, will be able to cite violators for illegal dumping.
A lot of folks who bring household trash to the transfer stations don’t know how they are managed nor paid for. Some have no idea that people who live inside the city limits of Fairbanks aren’t allowed to bring trash to a borough transfer site. That’s an expensive problem for the borough.
“$148.85, that’s the combined tipping and hauling fees that are charged for every ton of material that has to be hauled from the transfer sites to the landfill.”
That’s Bob Jordan, the borough’s Solid Waste Manager.
Borough Citizens who live outside the Fairbanks city limits pay part of their property taxes to The Solid Waste Collection District. The district hires a contractor to empty Dumpsters at each site and bring the trash to the landfill.
Jordan told the Assembly the two biggest abusers of the transfer sites are people who live in the City of Fairbanks and businesses.
People in the city pay to that municipality for garbage collection, so when city residents take their trash to a transfer station, it’s like double-dipping.
Commercial businesses are supposed to take their trash all the way to the borough landfill on Sanduri Street, or hire a contractor to do it.
At about $150. per ton, the cost of hauling the illegal city resident and commercial garbage gets into the millions of dollars. That’s why the code enforcement program was wanted. But it adds two positions to the borough payroll.
Assembly member Frank Tomaszewski says he does not think it will produce a net savings to taxpayers and doesn’t think adding positions now is prudent.
“What we really need to be doing instead of adding employees, is really going and educating the public on the rights and wrongs of transfer site use.”
He says people need to understand how much it costs the borough to handle trash.
Assembly member Jimi Cash agrees.
“I do believe something has to be done with the transfer sites. Don’t hear me wrong. But we’ve gotten dozens of emails over the past week telling us not to hire new people. And I think we need to listen to the people and do what they’ve asked us to do, because it is their money.”
The new manager position will draw a salary $92,490 plus benefits, and the officer position will be $57,230 a year plus benefits. But the assembly only approved the part of the money to launch the program.
The first $54,000 will come from next year’s budget, which is still being meted out.
The final vote on the program was 5-4 with Assembly members Frank Tomaszewski, Jimi Cash, Aaron Lojewski and Liz Lyke voting against the program.
At their last meeting, Assembly members were concerned that transfer station users might feel harassed if they were asked to prove they live outside city limits of Fairbanks or North Pole.
Chief of Staff Jim Williams says the code officers could ask for ID from a user, but they don’t have the same authority as a law enforcement officer.
“Our preference is to gain compliance before any heavy-handed enforcement.”
David Bredlie (BRED-lee) Director of Public Works for the borough says there are many aspects to monitoring the transfer sites that are straightforward. But when an officer has to judge whether a user is violating the law, they would probably default to a warning, rather than a citation.
“We don’t have that part of the plan fully developed.”