August 04, 2002 11:00 pm

The fee to dump garbage probably will go to $22 per ton after the Union County commissioners vote on Wednesday.

Before the commissioners vote, county residents will be allowed to ask questions and comment on the proposed rate increase. The cost to dump a ton of garbage will affect all pickup costs across the county.

Residents of La Grande's urban growth boundary, an area on the northeast side of town, will see the greatest increase of any unincorporated area in the county. Their rates will include a required curbside recycling fee, increasing the monthly fee to $13.95 per month, up from $8.75, for weekly garbage pickup. Twice-a-month pickup will go to $11.40 a month.

Union County Planner Hanley Jenkins said the state Department of Environmental Quality is requiring curbside recycling for the urban growth boundary, as well as for the city, but people living outside the city limits are not paying the $1.75 monthly fee to recycle yard debris. The county sets the fees for those in the urban growth boundary.

The countywide rates are a complicated combination depending upon the town and the garbage hauler. City Garbage Service, owned by Ron Larvik, is offering the greatest ability to recycle with curbside pickup in La Grande and the Material Recovery Facility, which accepts yard debris and turns it into compost.

The new rates will go into effect Sept. 1, and at that time, the Fox Hill Landfill will close to the public, although the franchised garbage haulers from La Grande and Union will continue to dump there.

After the landfill closes to the public, the Material Recovery Facility will be open six days a week to accept garbage and yard debris. The Willow Street recycling center will remain open seven days a week.

The landfill is nearing the end of its life and is expected to close in less than five years.

Jenkins explained why the county is closing the landfill to all public dumping.

"The work area has shrunk," he said. "Dumping and covering are taking place close together. There's more machinery in the dumping area, making it unsafe."

After the landfill closes, garbage will be hauled to a regional landfill, and the price of garbage collection to residences and businesses is expected to rise considerably — as high as $52 per ton — because of the cost of transportation.

The commissioners will discuss and vote on garbage rates at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the main meeting room of the Joseph Annex. The regular meeting begins at 9.

— Alice Perry Linker