Thursday night, the County Council had public hearings for various different budgets that the Council has to oversee because they provide the binding review for those budgets, including for the KCSWMD.
District Executive Director Tom Ganser said, “I guess one word kind of opens up this budget: It’s uncertainty. We have definitely some uncertainties that are going on within the district, one being our revenue.”
He said the district has always been lucky enough to get funded through host fees.
“What we’ve seen over the last five to six years with the transition of the landfill from Advance over to GFL, is most of the work that was going into that landfill has transitioned over to Waste Management’s transfer. That’s a good thing, right? We’re not filling up our landfill with extra volume, so we have lifespan. It’s a good thing. On my standpoint, it’s not such a good thing because funding comes down,” Ganser said.
He said the district has seen close to a $270,000 reduction in its revenue, compared to 2018.
“Again, that means 175,000 tons is being saved for later, which only helps local businesses around here with having that volume available to them down the road,” Ganser said.
The other uncertain piece in the district’s proposed 2023 budget, Ganser said, is recycling services. They will know more about that Tuesday when the three-year bids come in.
“We went from $58 a ton on our drop-off recycling program – we’re now at $195 per ton. With that, our volume has gone from in 2020 at about 1,400 to 1,500 tons a year (to) we’re approaching 1,800 to 1,900 tons a year,” Ganser said. “So, it’s a good thing in the fact that we’re seeing more people recycle. It’s a bad thing in the fact that the costs are up and the tons are up, too.”
He said the budget presented to the County Council reflected those uncertainties. When the bids are opened Tuesday, he hopes they’ll see some relief where they’ll see some recycling markets have improved, but transportation and labor costs have increased for the companies. “It’s tough for these guys to find CDL drivers,” he said.
Council President Sue Ann Mitchell said the good news was that the KCSWMD had a pretty good run for a pretty long time.
“We have. We’ve got a little bit of wiggle room in the back. So we’re hoping, we are negotiating right now with GFL on trying to rewrite the host agreement, so that could help. But on the back side of it, it’s a wait to see that,” Ganser said.
Councilman Jon Garber asked Ganser what he had in mind in his budget for capital improvements.
“One of the big things that we fight, Jon, is contamination. Quite honestly, just straight-up dumping. One of the biggest improvements we’ve made was HD cameras out at the Warsaw site. What you’re seeing there (in the budget) is the improvement of putting cameras also out at Syracuse. So, we’ll have some remote cameras. It’s a new technology that’s coming out, but, man, if we can monitor those sites,” Ganser replied.
He said they’re typically taking in about 34 tons a month in just garbage. The three sites in North Webster, Warsaw and Syracuse represents about 70% of the district’s volume.
“So if we can get cameras on there and start monitoring that, we could look at a reduction of about 5,000 tons,” he stated.
Garber said when he used to work at the Warsaw Parks Department, they’d collect recycling material but get a lot of garbage in there, too.
“Education is big, but sometimes people just don’t care, but that’s what we’re really trying to curb,” Ganser stated.
There were no remonstrators to the KCSWMD budget.
No one from the Turkey Creek Conservancy appeared for the public hearing of its budget. Mitchell said the Council received the preliminary report and approved the budget at the Aug. 25 Council budget session. The proposed amount for the Conservancy’s 2023 budget is $262,900, including everything before any cuts were made, she said. There were no remonstrators for or against the budget.
The Council will approve the final adoption of the budgets at their 6 p.m. Oct. 13 meeting.
Next up was the public hearing for the proposed 2023 budget for the Syracuse Public Library.
“The reason why they have to appear today is because their original estimates were more than 5%, which was the max levy. That’s the reason for them being here,” Mitchell said.
Library Director Kim Blaha explained, “Last year, we made a mistake and passed a zero budget.” She said they had to do additional appropriations but it wasn’t something the Council had to approve, the library board passed it.
“And, so, when we were doing the budget this year, our building needs a lot of repair and we’ve had a lot of problems, and so we had over $100,000 in the rainy day fund, and so I wanted to appropriate some of that, a lot of that money, for building repairs and other kinds of improvements. So that’s why it’s higher,” Blaha said.
There were no remonstrators against the library’s proposed 2023 budget.