Davis landfill upping fees for non-district residents, hoping to curb overuse

Saturday , August 12, 2017 - 5:00 AM

MITCH SHAW, Standard-Examiner Staff

LAYTON — The president of the Davis County landfill says the facility has become a victim of its own success.

And as a result, a steep fee hike has been put in place for non-district users of the Northern Utah dumping ground.

On Aug. 1, the Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District in Layton increased its minimum fee for patrons who don’t live inside the district’s boundaries from $5 to $25.

The special service district was formed by Davis County, but it now includes Morgan County as well. Wasatch Executive Director Nathan Rich said the agency is owned and governed by the two counties and the 15 cities inside them, excluding Bountiful.

Rich said the fee increase was necessary to reduce traffic at the landfill, which has steadily increased over the last several years. According to a news release from Wasatch, the facility recorded more than 180,000 visits in 2016. Rich said that number often included as many as 1,800 on busy Saturdays.

In 2005, the facility recorded just over 100,000 visits.

“What’s happened is over time, we’ve really been feeling the pressure of our own success,” he said. “We’ve been able to build some really great facilities and provide really good service, and over the past 10 years or so, our traffic has almost doubled. A lot of times, on Saturdays, traffic will back up out onto (State Road) 193.”

Rich said the long lines and wait times were degrading the level of service the facility feels it owes to residents of the district.

“Ultimately, the facilities are built and paid for by the residents of the district (through taxes),” Rich said. “So that’s kind of where the priority is.”

Rich said while the fee hike is aimed at dissuading out-of-district patrons from using the facility, it also represents something of a compromise by still allowing them to use it if they’re willing to pay the enhanced fee.

“We’re not barring people from the facility,” he said.

Rich estimated that 10 to 15 percent of self-haul customers visiting the facility before the fee increase did not live inside district boundaries. He said instead of pursuing costly capital improvements, which would eventually be required to accommodate the rising traffic, the new policy will immediately open up space at the landfill.

“Before we spend a substantial amount of money on expansion, we can essentially expand by 10 or 15 percent just by restricting access,” Rich said. “We felt like that was the smartest thing to do at this point.”

With the new policy in place, landfill patrons are now required to show a driver’s license, business license or current utility bill to prove they live inside district boundaries. The $5 minimum charge to visit the facility is still in place for Morgan and Davis County residents.

Rich said the use of the other free services at the facility, like household hazardous waste and electronic waste disposal, will be restricted to residents of the district. The sale of compost and wood chips are not affected by the changes.

Dean Whitby, who lives in unincorporated Weber County near the Davis County border said he’s used the Davis facility almost exclusively for several years.

“It’s just a fantastic facility,” Whitby said. “It’s mechanized, and the people just have a high customer service ethic.”

Whitby mostly used the landfill for dumping green waste, but he says he’ll now find a facility in Weber County.

“It is a great facility,” he said. “But with how often I go, I can’t afford that.”

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23 or like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mitchshaw.standardexaminer/.

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