ROCKLAND, Maine — At the end of June, contracted haulers will no longer be able to pay to dispose of demolition debris in a former limestone quarry that the city of Rockland has used for generations as a dump.
The projected elimination of contracted waste disposal revenue creates the bulk of the city’s budget shortfall for 2019. The loss of revenue makes up $350,000 of the total projected $587,000 non-property tax revenue shortfall the city faces for 2019.
City leaders will present recommendations for making up that shortfall at the annual budget presentation to the Rockland City Council on Wednesday night. By examining all revenue lines, City Manager Tom Luttrell said city staff have closed the gap between projected revenue and municipal spending to $190,000.
The June 30 cut-off date for contracted waste disposal is part of the end-stage plan for closure of the landfill.
Rockland residents will still be able to dispose of debris and building materials at the landfill for another few months to a year. During that time, the city will continue working on a capping plan for the landfill with an engineering firm and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
The hope is to begin the capping process in a year, Luttrell said.
Over the past 10 years, contracts with debris haulers using the landfill have brought in about $10 million, Luttrell said. Aside from generating revenue, the aim of having haulers dispose of large amounts of debris was to be able to fill the landfill faster.
Knowing that the landfill would be closing in the near future, Luttrell said the city has been limiting the reliance on those funds so it would not have such an impact on the budget. But this year’s budget still came up short.
Going forward, to try and make up revenue, the city will undergo a fee study to ensure that Rockland remains competitive with neighboring communities.
The quarry landfill on Limerock Street is nearly 90 years old, and has generated myriad odors and plans for closure. When the landfill opened in the 1930s, residents dumped a variety of trash into the quarry, including fish and algae waste. In recent decades the landfill has been primarily used for building and demolition debris.
In 2010 and 2014, the city installed gas collection pipelines to quell the odors emanating from the 273-foot deep landfill, but some odors still persist. Luttrell said capping the landfill should eliminate any odors.
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