RIDGWAY – With the Ouray County Transfer Station scheduled to close on March 31 the Ouray Board of County Commissioners continues to explore ways to keep the facility open. On Monday, officials from Waste Management, which operates the station, agreed to provide the commissioners with the cost of infrastructure upgrades needed to keep the site operating, along with an increased rate structure.
Waste Management District Manager David Jones and Manager of Communications and Municipal Relations Melissa Kolwaite told the commissioners that expensive upgrades played a role in the decision to close the facility.
“Our company is restructuring with different standards,” Kolwaite said. “Essentially, the whole entire area would need to be fenced.” She added that because money is exchanged at the site, camera systems to improve auditing would also need to be installed to meet the new standards.
“This will cost us a tremendous amount of money to create infrastructure,” she said.
Those costs come on top of financial shortfalls incurred at the facility. The total operating cost of the transfer station in 2008 was $45,936, but revenues at the site totaled only $28,917 – creating a shortfall of $17,019.
Commissioner Heidi Albritton said she had heard from a number of residents who use the facility that the rates there are low, and asked if the financial problem could be resolved through a rate increase.
“Not everybody, but a vast majority said the rates are low,” Albritton said. “If your costs have gone up, why haven’t your rates?”
Jones said he had previously had such a conversation with County Administrator Connie Hunt, but it was basically a “moot” point because of the upcoming corporate audit and restructuring.
“Going into the future, the site is going to have to make a price increase regardless who operates it,” Jones said. The county owns the land on which the facility is located, while Waste Management owns all the equipment and dumpsters at the site.
“We all appreciate that it is a business,” Albritton said. “We just need to know what is the bottom line and then we can see if and how we can help to keep it in that space. From our perspective there is clearly a lot of interest in Ouray County to keep it.”
Jones agreed to report back to the commissioners in two weeks with the cost of the infrastructure upgrades and necessary rate increases.
“That could help you make a decision on what is appropriate,” said Kolwaite. “We understand that this is a cornerstone of the community.”
“Ouray County has been a good customer of ours and I have a lot of concerns that if this place doesn’t succeed, where is the trash going to go?” Jones said.