Lincoln County will hold a public hearing regarding the plan for charging host fees at solid waste landfills in the county.
Recommendations made by a special five-person committee set up by the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners a few months ago have presented a number of options, but all them are causing concern with Virgin Valley Disposal and the City of Mesquite, who use the landfill at Toquop.
Mesquite City Attorney Bob Sweeten and Mr. Tanner of Virgin Valley Disposal, in the past have asked the board to wait until 2016 to make any ruling, giving them time to digest what is being proposed.
Sweeten said Lincoln County District Attorney Dan Hooge agrees a host fee would be a tax on the City of Mesquite, and the city wanted an exemption from that. “Every other county in the state is using a contract method for the specific reason there is no state authorization to impose a host fee,” Sweeten said.
He added, “any host fee that would be imposed on the City of Mesquite would essentially violate the agreements, the contracts we already have with the county and also an existing memorandum of understanding. Mesquite residents use that road, but Lincoln County residents generally don’t use it.”
Sweeten said he felt there were better ways to strategize the issues faced regarding use of the Toquop landfill. “When we step back and take a look at it, there is a lot more to it than just passing a fee and now Mesquite has to pay the fee. There is a so much more to it than that. With Western Elite and Recology, you don’t have those same issues.”
Commissioner Varlin Higbee said when he attended the recent Nevada Association of Counties meeting, he asked around and was told having a contract with the solid waste haulers works quite well. The haulers would have to come to the county and negotiate renewable special use permits.
At present, Lincoln County does have contracts regarding the three landfill sites, Crestline, used by Recology, Western Elite’s site on U.S. 93, and Toquop, used by Mesquite, but Commissioner Paul Donohue said host fees are not listed there and, if approved, need to be included in any new documents.
Current landfill fees are $1.35 per ton for Class I and II wastes, and 15 cents per ton for Class III materials, but may be adjusted at the upcoming public hearing. County Treasurer Shawn Frehner said the rates charged by Lincoln County are lower, for the most part, than those charged by most other counties in the state.
Commissioner Paul Mathews noted that fees might need to be higher for Western Elite, as heavier truck traffic is expected on U.S. 93 now that they have been granted a license to take in Class I (household and hazardous) wastes. “We will need more money for road maintenance,” he said.
He also commented, “The mitigation there needs to be greater than it is at the other sites that do not have the heavy impact of traffic. Maybe we can mitigate that in a different way.”
Higbee said if the host fee was the same for all three landfills, he did not think it would fit into everyone’s business plan. “What might be acceptable to one, might break the other one.”
County Planning director Cory Lytle stated the whole matter is very complicated and said he thinks there are different situations to work out with each solid waste hauler. “There is a world of difference between Western Elite, sitting just off a major U.S. highway in a 70 mph speed zone, and traffic at Toquop and Crestline.”
The meeting is open to the public in the county commission chambers.