A 32% increase in rates at Delaware Solid Waste Authority landfills may well translate to higher prices for residents served by local trash haulers.

The beginning of July will see some rate changes for trash haulers in Kent County and throughout the state, the result of a 32% landfill fee increase implemented by the Delaware Solid Waste Authority.

The result, say representatives of the county’s two largest private trash collecting companies, will be higher prices for their customers.

“It’s going to make the costs to our customers go up,” said Bob Ziegler, general manager of Allied Waste Services. “It’s not what we want to do by any means.

With such a substantial increase, we can’t absorb all of it.”
Bruce Georgov, owner and president of Independent Disposal Services, concurred.

“Obviously we have to pass it along,” Georgov said. “Disposal is our biggest expense, and when it goes up, we have to pass it along.”

The planned fee increases will have no effect, at least not immediately, for those living in one of the county’s 168 trash collection districts, said Kent County Director of Public Works Hans Medlarz. The county has a three-year contract with Inland Services of Milford, which keeps the rates steady through the end of 2010.

“DSWA already has an approved rate increase, but my rates are good through Dec. 31,” Medlarz said. “We’re still somewhat insulated from this rate increase and our vendor will have to cover this.”

However, when a new contract is written to take effect Jan. 1, 2011, district customers also must expect to see their trash collection rates go up, although how much will depend on the terms of the new contract, he said.

Recycling to go private

There are other, more far-reaching changes coming, primarily because of recycling legislation being written by the Markell administration. Among its provisions, the draft bill will take the DSWA completely out of the curbside recycling collection business and hand over that task to companies like Allied and IDS.

Under the proposed bill, the solid waste authority’s familiar blue and yellow carts will disappear by the middle of September 2011, allowing private contractors to take over immediately.

DSWA will continue to accept recycled material at its landfills and transfer centers from both private citizens bringing in their own as well as the private haulers.

The Markell administration has circulated a draft of the legislation, a copy of which was used by the Dover City Council’s Utility Committee during their recent discussions on the proposal. Administration spokesman Brian Selander has said a final bill will be readied for the General Assembly, probably before the Easter break.

With DSWA reportedly not planning on submitting a bid for recycling pickup services, work already has begun to help find new jobs for between 30 to 40 workers, said Rich Von Stetten, senior manager of statewide recycling.

Additionally, DSWA is putting out bids to sell its recycling trucks, some of which could conceivably be snapped up by private companies.

In actuality, DSWA officials would prefer the private contractors not wait for the General Assembly to pass recycling legislation.

“At DSWA, we feel very strongly they can get started a lot sooner than [Sept. 15, 2011],” Von Stetten said. The contracts the authority still has with various towns, such as Dover, Lewes and Bethany, run until Dec. 31, meaning DSWA will only pick up recycling for its customers who twice a month put their recycling carts out by Kent County roadsides.

“We think the private haulers like Allied and IDS will be aggressively picking up the slack for those subscription customers,” Von Stetten said. “In all probability, they’ll be making some nice arrangements, saying, ‘Do your trash with us, and we’ll do the single-stream recycling as well.’”

Allied and IDS customers soon will be receiving notices about pending rate increases, although it’s too early yet for either to say exactly how much more their customers will have to pay.

Email Jeff Brown at jeff.brown@doverpost.com.