Information on Camrose Regional Solid Waste Authority – December 2022

At the Regular Council Meeting held on December 13th, County Council had several items to discuss pertaining to the Camrose Regional Solid Waste Authority (CRSWA).  The Camrose Regional Solid Waste  Authority board governs the Camrose Landfill and includes three municipal partners; the City of Camrose (the managing partner), Camrose County and the Village of Bittern Lake.

Over the past number of years, the CRSWA has been dealing with a shortfall of funds in the closure and post closure reserve for the landfill.  According to Environmental regulations, any landfill must establish and fund a reserve account to cover the future costs of the site after it is no longer used as a landfill.  In 2021, the CRSWA requested a one-time cash injection of $50,000 from Camrose County to cover the County’s share of the unfunded liability (The City of Camrose portion was $1,955,652 and the Village of Bittern Lake was $6,000).

During this 2022 fiscal year, the Authority made the decision to transition the Landfill to a Transfer site and proceed with closure of the landfill.  The decision to transition from a landfill to a transfer site accelerated the final closure of the current landfill which resulted the need to fund the liability of $3,000,000 in 2023.  As there are insufficient funds in the reserve account, the CRSWA approached its member municipalities requesting a cash contribution.  Camrose County’s portion is $75,000.  The City of Camrose will contribute $2,917,600 and the Village of Bittern Lake has been asked to contribute $7,400.  This request was discussed at the County Council meeting on Tuesday, December 13th, and Council approved the unbudgeted expenditure to come from the 2022 budget year surplus.  The determining factor in this issue was that as a member of this authority Camrose County is responsible to contribute a share of these costs arising from past use of the landfill.

The second item related to the Camrose Regional Landfill on the agenda was the request for funding of the construction of the proposed transfer site building.  The cost estimate provided to the County by the CRSWA for the project is $3.355 million.  The County’s share of this project would be $208,000 (the City of Camrose would contribute $2,376,400, and the Village of Bittern Lake would be asked to contribute $15,600).  Council discussed this request at length, and although Council agrees that a transfer site is the best option moving forward, the cost of the project was deemed excessive.  Two hundred thousand dollars represents a 1% increase in property taxes to each ratepayer in Camrose County (or a 14% increase in the County taxpayer funded capital projects for 2023).  Council made a decision to deny the request to approve the proposed funding for the construction of a transfer site building and has requested the CRSWA to review the project for a change in scope or cost savings which would then be considered at a future Council meeting.

The next agenda item requested County Council approve the 2023/24 operational budget for the Camrose Regional Landfill.  The proposed budget shows a deficit of approximately $320,000 in each year (County’s share would be $25,000+), to be funded by a cash injection from the municipal partners.  One of the objectives of the Camrose Regional Landfill is that it be fully funded by tipping fees, and not require the use of municipal tax revenue to fund landfill operations.  The Landfill Authority Agreement states (section 6e) that the Authority shall not incur an annual operational deficit great than $5,000.  Consequently, Council denied approval of the proposed budget and sent it back to the Authority for review.

Finally, Council discussed the tipping fees for County residents.  Historically, Camrose County residents have been able to take residential waste to the City Landfill, and Camrose County pays the bill.  In the last year, the tipping fees have increased from $70 to $100/tonne (July 2022) and will rise to $150/tonne (Jan 2023) (in 2020 the fee was $40/tonne).  A minimum charge was also instituted.  As a result, the monthly bills for County residential garbage have increased from $22,000 in 2020 to approximately $40,000 in 2022.  The expected amount for 2023 at the increased tipping fee is approximately $60,000.  As a result, Camrose County Council passed a motion to cease covering tipping fees for residents at the City Landfill.  Council recognizes that this is a change to service and results in an out-of-pocket cost for residents who continue to choose to use the City Landfill.  Alternatives for residents are available, which include the Kelsey Transfer Site, Kingman Transfer Site, Meeting Creek Transfer Site and the West Dried Meat Lake Regional Landfill (See the County website for hours and locations).  Residential garbage disposal is free for County residents at all those sites, and the cost to the County (paid by the ratepayers as a whole) for residents to use these services is $15/tonne, compared to $150/tonne at the City Landfill.

Council feels it is not a justifiable use of ratepayer dollars to pay the City Landfill $150/tonne when the alternatives (although admittedly inconvenient for some ratepayers) would cost one tenth of that price.   As a member of the CRSWA, the City Landfill remains available to County ratepayers who choose to use this service, however the user will now pay at the Landfill for this service.   It is important to note that the City of Camrose is diverting City waste to the West Dried Meat Lake Regional Landfill.