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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow TALKING TRASH


By Alice Perry Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Garbage and recycling fees have been increasing for City of La Grande residents, but Union County doesnt plan to raise the cost of dumping at the landfill.

Next month the La Grande City Council will consider a City Garbage Service proposal to begin curbside recycling for $3.50 per month. City Garbage owner Ron Larvik, in a written proposal to the city, said that weekly users of the service would pay about $14 a month for curbside recycling and garbage collection.

Union County, which owns the Fox Hill Landfill, has been negotiating with City Garbage, which runs the landfill, about future costs. With the increased city fees, plus expanded industrial recycling and an existing yard waste recycling program, the county does not expect to increase its fee, at least for a year, said county planner Hanley Jenkins. The cost of dumping at the landfill is $16 per ton.

The landfill may close to individual dumping this year, and people will take their trash to City Garbages Material Recovery Facility (MRF) on Highway 30 outside La Grande. The countys cost of dumping will not change, he said, but stabilizing the fee depends on the new recycling programs. A franchise agreement between the county and the MRF sets the fee.

The La Grande City Council last summer approved an additional $1.75 per month fee for all City Garbage users to pay for recycling yard debris at the companys MRF. Residents who live outside the garbage collection area pay an individual fee every time they recycle yard debris there.

The MRF, owned by Larvik, is also working with Boise Cascade to recycle excess wood into hog fuel, which the MRF will sell back to the timber company. Jenkins said that a one months trial recovered about seven tons of wood waste which were processed and resold to Boise.

The county supports such recycling efforts.

The savings to the landfill are considerable, he said. Our hope is to keep that material out of the landfill.

The county is discussing the possibility of recycling wood waste from the countys two travel trailer manufacturing companies, Nash Trailers and Fleetwood.

We dont have any agreement yet, Jenkins said. The trailer manufacturers have been reluctant to participate, but were going to provide them with incentives.

Jenkins said the costs of separating the wood from other material has been a factor for the companies. He said he doesnt yet know what the incentives will be.

Larvik said last fall that City Garbage plans to close its Willow Street Recycling Center, partly because of traffic problems and crowding issues, and move its recycling center to the MRF where it will operate the center during regular business hours, Monday through Friday.

Jenkins said, however, that the county will insist on a

free, 24-hour recycling center

to replace the Willow Street


People who do not have on-route service will not have to pay $3.50 a month and will have the opportunity to go to a depot at no cost, he said. The only people who will be charged will be

those getting a new service, and thats those who will be on the route.

The countys position is that recycling needs to be as convenient at the MRF as it is now on Willow Street open seven days a week, 365 days a year.

The county already has closed about half of the Fox Hill Landfill, and Jenkins said that the level of recycling will affect the landfills remaining life. If the planned recycling programs begin, the county may be able to use the landfill for another 4 1/2 years. Without recycling programs, the county dump will be full in about 3 1/2 years.

Once the landfill is closed, the county will be forced to ship its garbage to a regional collection center, at a considerable increase in costs to consumers.

Jenkins said he could not predict if the $16-per-ton fee would increase after a year.

Well continue to monitor and reevaluate our recovery plan every year, he said. If a year from now we havent done these things, we may have to adjust the fees, but this is the best picture weve got right now.

Reach Alice Perry Linker at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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