Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

November 23, 2012

Tipping fee debate wages on

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — The long debate among Effingham County officials over tipping fees -- fees that public entities are allowed to charge landfills to encourage recycling and environmental education -- ended at Monday's Effingham County Board meeting.

    Or did it?

    After 12 years of periodic discussion, the board voted 5-4 Monday to impose tipping fees of up to $1.27 per ton on Landfill 33 in Effingham. Effingham County is one of the few counties in the state that, up to now, has not imposed such fees.

    But given the way the board split the vote, it's possible the new board taking office next month might move to reverse Monday's decision. That's because three of the five board members who voted in the majority are leaving office at the end of the month. Conversely, only one vote against the proposal was cast by a departing board member.

    Health Department administrator Kim Esker, who spearheaded the effort to impose tipping fees, said she's aware a new board might see things differently.

    "It's up to them," Esker said. "I would assume there might be a move to repeal."

    Meanwhile, Esker said, she planned to meet with the state's attorney's office to draft an ordinance.

    Board member David Campbell, one of the four votes against Monday's proposal, admitted the new board might take another look at tipping fees.

    "There could be a chance it will be looked at by the new board," Campbell said. "I think some of the new (incoming) members have some concerns."

    Campbell would rather see a host agreement between the county and Landfill 33.  A host agreement still involves a fee to the landfill, but proceeds can be used for broader purposes.

    The board's Health Committee voted not to recommend the tipping fee initiative to the full board. But that recommendation, or lack of, was not binding.

    Landfill 33 vice-president Brian Hayes, who argued against tipping fees at Monday's meeting, said the concept shouldn't apply to established landfills like Landfill 33.

    "The whole intent of a tipping fee was to be a part of the permitting process (for new landfills)," Hayes said.

    During Monday's meeting, Hayes asked the board why there was such a rush to impose the fee.

    "There's no urgency to pass this right away," he said. "The Illinois EPA says we're the only the landfill in the state that doesn't pay tipping fees and that we need to start.

    "But taking advice from Springfield isn't a good idea."

    Hayes, who came into the meeting with a plastic water bottle, said a better idea than tipping fees might be a public education effort.

    "We could reduce our costs 3 or 4-to-one by compressing containers," said Hayes, as he crushed the empty water bottle in his hand to demonstrate.

    Other speakers against tipping fees included David Doty of Doty Sanitation in Beecher City.  Doty said recycling didnÕt need any more of a boost in the area than it already had.

    "You have two companies that offer recycling opportunities," Doty said. "All youÕre doing with tipping fees is assessing another tax that cuts into profit."

    But a third speaker on the issue told the board that tipping fees were long overdue.

    "They have been available since 1995," said Bill Elving of Effingham. "I think you need it now.

    "Recycling programs need funding, so what is the holdup?" Elving asked.