By Grace Moore
Pine Haven Town Council will not at this time support the push to put the question of introducing a mill levy to fund a countywide solid waste district on the ballot at the next election, as suggested by the Crook County Solid Waste Joint Powers Board.
Mayor Larry Suchor said that the suggested three mill, “equates to about $28 per every $100,000 of valuation, so if you have a $200,000 home, you’re going to pay about $70 a year”.
Suchor explained that this figure could be higher than Pine Haven residents would pay if the town opted to stay with a private contractor.
“One mill is one tenth of one penny. If we look at it and run the numbers, it’s pretty simple to figure out; $28 per $100,000 of valuation is higher than we’ll pay for garbage according to the garbage people we’ve had come in,” he said.
Councilwoman Karla Brandenburg, however, expressed her concern over the significant rate hike discussed by their current provider for taking the town’s garbage somewhere other than Moorcroft.
“If we do this, how much control are we going to have so this can’t be pulled out from under us again?” she asked.
Councilman John Cook advocated waiting to see whether any Crook County entity moved forward with digging a new landfill. Suchor told the council he had spoken with Vivian Odell, Mayor of Hulett, who told him that Hulett also has concerns and feels decisions should be made on whether the joint powers board becomes a district before voting on a mill levy.
With much discussion, the governing body by majority chose not to support a levy. However, Cook qualified that decision as, “Not at this time. After further study [and] with further information, we may be a position to support it.”
As Pine Haven seeks options for a cost effective method and destination for their solid waste, they are looking at possible privatization. Dave Naughton, owner of Western Waste Solutions of Gillette, spoke to the issue at Tuesday night’s council meeting.
His company offers residential and commercial pick up and recycling, shipping to Rapid City, SD; Western Waste also hauls recycling for Sundance. “We’re pretty well known in terms of our service, I’ve been in business for over 30 years. I’m here to answer questions [and] help develop some trial programs,” Naughton said.
After answering a few questions, Naughton agreed to provide the governing body with a cost estimation.
Resident Gary Dowling expressed his concern over waste items that will no longer be accepted at the Moorcroft landfill now it has closed its gates to outside customers. What will happen to tree branches and other garbage that can’t be taken to the dump, he asked.
“Do we go to Gillette? What are we going to do with the stuff we used to take to Moorcroft? I think it’s going to be a problem, a big problem,” he said.
Mayor Larry Suchor responded, “That’s a good question. Right now, because of their decision not to take that material from the other communities, I believe it leaves us on our own and we don’t have a place for it.”
He opined that Gillette will probably take the appliances; however, “As far as your tree branches, that’s a whole other game; we don’t have an area…the golf course talked about a disposal pond where they could probably dig and use that, in the winter time they could burn it, but I don’t think there’s any deal yet. It is a problem; it’s a county wide problem potentially. We don’t have a good answer for you.”