Solid waste haulers made up the most numerous portion of the audience Thursday at a public meeting on tipping fees for waste disposal. They had questions and concerns about the fees that will go into effect on all three islands next month.
Officials of the V.I. Waste Management Authority said they welcome all comments and suggestions and will take them under consideration. But the tipping fees are needed and overdue, they said.
According to Government House, beginning Oct. 1 a charge calculated by weight will be assessed for any waste material brought in to the St. Croix Transfer Station, the Susannaberg Transfer Station on St. John, and the Bovoni landfill on St. Thomas. The tipping fee per ton ranges from $31.28 to $65.26 depending upon the type of material being disposed.
The commercial haulers present at the meeting expressed concern about the impact the tipping fees will have on the bottom line of hauling contracts that had been negotiated before the new charge was anticipated.
Others suggested a flat fee so that they can give their customers a more accurate estimate of the cost of the disposal job. Still others questioned whether the V.I. Waste Management Authority could be more creative with the materials being disposed by producing products for sale, thereby requiring less revenue from tipping fees.
Interim VIWMA Executive Director Steven Aubin explained that the new fees are required revenue to cover disposal costs. Already approved by the Virgin Islands Public Services Commission, the tipping fees will replace most of the funds now provided by the V.I. government. Aubin said such fees are standard practice throughout the United States and all over the world.
The amounts to be charged, he insisted, have been determined by extensive studies and comparisons and are fair reflections of VIWMA’s actual costs associated with solid waste disposal.
The executive director put the annual cost at $10.2 million to manage 200,000 tons of solid waste. The tipping fees will generate approximately $6.9 million, with services to residents expected to cover the balance.
Mario Leonard, district director for solid waste, described the system to be used in determining the tipping fee – or cost for each load of waste.
Upon arrival, a loaded vehicle will be weighed and the type of waste material assessed. Only after that will the vehicle be allowed to dump – or "tip" – the waste where designated. Leonard said the vehicle will be weighed without the load as it leaves and then charged according to the weight difference and category of disposed material.
Waste haulers will be able to establish charge accounts with VIWMA if they haul 10 or more loads per week, while less frequent users will be required to pay using credit/debit cards or checks. No cash will be accepted.