Solid waste fee should have been raised gradually

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The Perry County Solid Waste Management District has proposed raising its annual fee for disposal and recycling services from $32 to $45.

That is a 40.6 percent increase and while it won’t have the same impact on area residents as Tell City’s 50.2 percent increase on its monthly water bills had this year, we think it’s still too big a raise at one time.

Ken Smith, manager of the Perry County Solid Waste Management District, told the Perry County News last week that the district has essentially been operating in the red for the last several years.

If so, it would have made more sense to request a 6 or 7 percent raise each of the last four years. Then only a 7 or 8 percent raise would be needed now to bring the fee up to $45, and these smaller annual raises would be easier for tight budgets to plan for and absorb. Even those raises would have still been more than twice the rate of overall inflation each year.

The solid waste fee is charged to every property owner in Perry County and some wonder if all county residents benefit equally from it.

Curbside recycling is available only in Tell City and Troy – not in Cannelton or any rural parts of the county. The governments of Tell City and Troy operate their recycling pickup with their employees, but the solid waste district provides some equipment, such as trailers for pickup, to them.

The solid waste district does operate a processing facility at Second and Herzeele streets in Cannelton to handle a large portion of the county’s solid waste and recycling needs, as well as drop-off centers near Branchville and Derby. But for many Perry County residents near Tell City and Troy, the closest drop-off center is the one in Spencer County between Troy and Evanston.

If another drop-off center were added in Perry County or if house-to-house recycling pickup were scheduled even once a month for rural parts of the county, then the solid waste district’s requested 40.6 percent fee increase would be more palatable for many county residents.

The solid waste district held a public hearing on its proposed rate increase Thursday evening – it was announced in the News that day – and its board will meet in special session 6 p.m. June 29, when a vote could be held to approve an increase.

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