The rising cost of handling our trash without a defined plan for the future is catching up to Atchison County in 2011. As stakeholders in the county we have, a sense of urgency to create and find solutions on how we can reduce the economic costs our solid waste is creating for us today going forward. Who wants to spend our hard-earned tax dollars on hauling around our trash when we could be spending it on our infrastructure. The reasons we need to address the future of Atchison County’s solid waste program are simple. 1) Our expenses are exceeding revenues, 2) The volume of solid waste is increasing dramatically, and 3) we need to be good stewards of the environment.
Our expenses are exceeding revenues. This is an ongoing trend for several years and it is important to look at the leading causes to this gap in funding. Since 2008 the 1% sales tax collected from every city, township in Atchison County for Solid Waste, Joint Communications has decreased by $186,414, and the amount of sales tax generated for solid waste and joint communications decreased by $137,200 for a grand total of $323,516 shortfall in anticipated revenues. This is about 23% of the total budgeted expenditures for 2011. At the same time expenses have increased too as the need to update facilities, contracts to haul the trash out of Atchison County, and rising cost of fuel have all increased significantly. The total revenue in 2010 was $1.7 Million from the 1% sales tax less the reduction in revenue of $323,516.00 you are down to a little over $1.4 Million to be split between Solid Waste (60%) and Joint Communications (40%). Solid Waste is left with $854,000.00 to run its entire operation in 2010 with appropriations of expenses for $900,000.00 and actual costs of close to $950,000.00. This gap in revenues and expenses leaves a shortfall of $46,000-$96,000, which is not a good trend. We are anticipating a cost to just haul out our trash of $40/ton or $540,000.00. That is a 132% increase in costs just to haul our trash out since 1997.
The volume of solid waste is increasing dramatically without any plan in place to reduce all the trash we generated in 2010 only to be hauled out of Atchison County. In 2010 we hauled out 13,528 tons of solid waste at $30/ton or $409,000 in trash costs. Projections for 2011 push the tonnage to 13,800. If diesel fuel stays close to $4.00/gallon, our costs stay at $40/ton, we are looking at almost $540,000.00 in 2011 just to haul out the trash not including any other expenses. Since 1997 our tonnage of solid waste put-through has increased a staggering 40%. A study done in 2010 by the Kansas Policy Institute compared counties 2009 budget data by peer group size in $ per citizen spent on categories like solid waste. Atchison county’s peer group of 20 counties we ranked fourth in spending per citizen at $56.97 and even more than Shawnee, Riley, Pottawatomie, Leavenworth, Sedgwick, Douglas, Doniphan, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, and Wyandotte counties just to name a few.
We need to be good stewards of the environment not only from the moral standpoint it is good for our county, but also from the standpoint what kind of legacy do we want to leave the next generation in Atchison County. According to Kansas Organization of Recyclers (KOR) only about 20% of the Municipal Solid Waste generated in Kansas is recycled and that every Kansan generates .75 tons of trash annually. We are above the state average at .80 tons of trash annually. We need to get serious and explore real solutions like single-source recycling to not only reduce our solid waste, but recoup some the expenses in recyclables. Please help us change the way we handle our trash.
Atchison County Waste