We took out the trash Wednesday night. Didn’t think much about it until a glance out the kitchen window Thursday morning revealed that the garbage truck had been by sometime before dawn – as usual.
The Effingham County Board is giving garbage much deeper thought these days. The owners of Landfill 33 say it is nearing capacity and want to open another site nearby, on about 120 acres just outside Effingham along Illinois Route 33. (Huh. The name Landfill 33 suddenly makes sense.)
We feel for the neighbors of the proposed Effingham Crossroads Landfill, who have voiced objections to the proposal.
“These so-called experts can sugarcoat this any way they want to, but it’s still a garbage dump,” Dan Borries told the county board during a recent hearing. “If this facility goes in, I’m going to have problems the rest of my life.”
We also trust that the board will weigh those concerns and the need for a landfill as it considers the proposal. Local approval is the first step before it’s kicked up to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for consideration.
Besides considering the proposal, the county board should use this opportunity for public discussion of renewing the Host Agreement that goes with it.
As Sarah Ruholl Sehy put it in an opinion column on this page in June, the county will receive a “Host Fee” of $1 per ton of waste put into the landfill. The fee won’t be collected until 2026, but when it is, that money will go straight into the County General Fund. The board can spend it any way it wants.
Ruholl Sehy, a former county board candidate and the founder of Effingham Recycles, argued in her column that the board should adopt a “Tipping Fee” instead of a Host Fee.
“The funds generated by dumping waste into the landfill would be designated for waste reduction, bringing glass recycling to town, environmental cleanups, public health, and other efforts to reduce the impact of landfilling on our county,” she wrote.
Reducing waste is an important way to manage waste in our community. We often hear from residents who’d like to see more recycling options. Various surveys also consistently identify recycling as an important service.
Either way, the county is going to collect a fee from the landfill.
“What does the landfill get in exchange for this $1/ton Host Fee? They get a promise that no other fees or special assessments not levied on other businesses will ever be collected from the landfill,” Ruholl Sehy wrote. “… The same $1/ton collected as a Tipping Fee instead wouldn’t be an increased cost on them, and it would provide desperately needed funding for environmental services. What else does the county get in this deal? We get a professionally operated landfill capable of providing waste disposal for our community and for the many surrounding counties who do not have their own. Landfill services are needed, and Landfill 33 does that well.”
We urge the county board to organize more public discussion of how we handle waste and what to do about recycling.
Meanwhile, if you want to comment on the landfill proposal itself, letters received at the Effingham County Clerk’s office by 4 p.m. Feb. 8, or postmarked by Feb. 8, will be considered by the board.