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SALT LAKE CITY - Amid strong opposition from Salt Lake City, other government-owned landfills and private commercial garbage haulers, the Salt Lake County Council killed a resolution to cap garbage waste dumping at the Salt Lake County landfill.
The Salt Lake City Council and the Salt Lake Valley Solid Waste Management Council would have also had to approve resolution. Both had written letters of opposition to Salt Lake County Council Chairman Joe Hatch, drafter of the resolution. The County Council's committee of the whole voted 3-2 to oppose the measure.
The resolution, as drafted, would result in higher garbage collection fees for end users, warned a letter from the chairman of Salt Lake Valley Solid Waste Management Council.
"The council feels strongly that a waste restriction cap will create several impacts to the landfill operations, including the necessity to increase tipping fees that will ultimately be passed along to Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County and West Valley residents," wrote Rick Graham in a letter to Hatch.
Presently, the landfill accepts about 480,000 tons of garbage waste a year. Next year, because of recycling and metal shredding efforts at the facility, the figure is expected to be about 447,000 tons. Tuesday morning, Hatch's resolution contained a 400,000 ton cap. By Tuesday afternoon, the cap was changed to 447,000 tons. Even so, council members said a different process was needed to amend current operating conditions.
"I don't think this is the right time to make a decision," said Councilwoman Jenny Wilson.
Hatch said unless the parties take a more active role in management of the landfill — and the role it plays in market forces — the Legislature will pass laws to regulate the industry.
Councilman Randy Horiuchi took Salt Lake Mayor Peter Corroon's office to task for also opposing the resolution, calling the office "schizophrenic" considering its strong stand on other environmental issues in the county.
Doug Willmore, chief administrative officer to Corroon, said putting a cap on the landfill would distort the market, which is a mix of private and government landfills. Moreover, other forces are in place to extend the life of the landfill, which was Hatch's rationale for the cap.
Six years ago, the expected life span of the landfill was 51 years, Willmore said. Because of recycling, setting aside green waste and efforts by manufacturers to reduce product packaging, the life span has increased, Willmore said.
Worse, Willmore said, capping the landfill would raise costs for homeowners and the private sector.
"This is a de facto tax to handle a remotely potential problem 58 years from now," he said.