September 22, 2021

Solid waste disposal no longer free for rural residents

Talsma says program was abused, cost Jasper County too much money

Results from a six-month audit conducted by Jasper County Supervisor Brandon Talsma showed some residents severely abused the free home disposal rule, which he cited as part of the reason the county formed a new agreement with the facility and is now making rural property owners pay for trash disposals.

In the past, the county would cover the costs of rural residents’ household waste disposals. But Talsma said people had taken advantage of the program.

“There are several incidents that tell me this program is getting abused,” Talsma said. “We had one individual, who in one day — on June 16 — brought in 9,000 pounds of stuff … that was processed as household waste. And the county footed the bill.”

Another person in March 2021 hauled in eight loads totaling 15.34 tons over the course of three days and was processed, again, as household waste, Talsma said. This incident cost the county $797.68. Talsma said he found “case after case” of similar incidents.

In response, the board of supervisors on Tuesday, Sept. 7 approved a new intergovernmental agreement for solid waste disposal at the landfill. The agreement is also the result of renegotiations by the county attorney’s office authorized by supervisors earlier this year.

Most of the changes to the agreement are relatively minor, Talsma said, but the biggest one is the dissolution of a clause that “locked the county in to paying for household waste disposal” at the Newton Sanitary Landfill. The county’s costs have continued to increase, prompting the creation of a new agreement.

At a budget workshop meeting this past year, Talsma requested the $268,000 the county was going to allot for the landfill be reduced to $100,000 instead.

Currently, a $10 flat fee is set for anything under 500 pounds. Talsma said this has caused the county problems, too. The county would routinely pay more since the cost for a 10-pound haul is essentially the same cost as a 499-pound haul.

Within that six-month period, Talsma said the county paid $15,150 for a total of 97 tons of waste. If the county was instead billed by the ton, he estimated it would have only cost about $3,000. Talsma also took issue with contract haulers not being able to present documentation tracing their hauls to rural areas.

“I believe there’s evidence to show that the program was being taken advantage of (and) there was abuse,” he said. “So think it would be in the county’s best interest to sign a renegotiated 28E and doing away with that specific clause in the 28E.”

The Newton City Council already approved the amended 28E agreement with Jasper County at its Aug. 2 meeting. Talsma said the other cities in the county — Baxter, Colfax, Kellogg, Lambs Grove, Lynnville, Mingo, Monoroe, Oakland Acres, Sully and Valeria — will consider approving the amended contract.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

Christopher Braunschweig

Reporter with a strong penchant for community journalism.