ROCKLAND, Maine — The issue of whether to more than double the annual price of residential dump stickers is in the hands of the Rockland City Council.
David St. Laurent, the city’s solid waste director, proposed the increase in his department’s budget. If approved, the annual cost of a dump sticker for residential homeowners and businesses would jump from $65 to $143.
That fee would take effect in May, under the director’s proposal.
The $65 fee was enacted in August 2010.
Rockland Mayor Larry Pritchett said Friday that the council will not approve such a high rate.
“The council is considering a range of fee options that would raise the fee from $65 to something in the $75 to $95 range,” he said. The current fee of $110 per ton charged to commercial haulers might also be increased to between $125 and $135, Pritchett said.
“I expect more discussion on this at preliminary adoption, which is now scheduled for May 28,” the mayor said.
St. Laurent said the increase was needed to keep up with the higher cost to the city of disposing of its wastes at Penobscot Energy Recovery Company’s incinerator in Orrington. Some of the additional funds also would go toward the eventual closure of the landfill — which in Rockland’s case is a former lime quarry that has been used for at least the past 40 years. The landfill is expected to be filled in about four years.
“The fees don’t cover the costs of the operation of the transfer station,” St. Laurent said Friday.
St. Laurent said he does not expect the council to approve such an increase, but he wanted to show them what the true costs of operating the facility are.
The city has issued slightly fewer than 1,400 resident dump stickers each year since the fee was started.
Interim City Manager Tom Luttrell said he has made no recommendation, and the council will have to decide the matter. The City Council has been meeting with heads of the larger municipal departments for the past few weeks to review budget proposals. Councilors are expected to take a final vote on the 2014-15 budget late next month.
Councilor Elizabeth Dickerson, who has been a critic of the fee since it began, said she is opposed to the proposal but could accept a $10 increase.
In 2010, when the council created the fee, Dickerson said, “I hope people come down here with flaming torches.”
Correction: Solid waste Director David St. Laurent said the current fees do not cover the costs of operating the transfer station. The original story incorrectly made reference to the fees not covering the costs of the landfill.