For those of us living in the municipalities, the transfer station at the County Land Use facility (or as many older locals may remember it, the County “dump”) is somewhat out of sight, out of mind. When Waste Management notified the County in January of its intention to close the facility, I personally didn’t realize just how significant this service was to our community. However, in the past few months we have received an enormous amount of input from Ouray residents, all of whom stressed how valuable this facility is and how critical it is to keep it within the County.
Many residents utilize the transfer station for recyclables, others for weekly trash service and still others for construction materials and large items. Without this facility, residents would have to drive to Montrose, or in the worst case, dispose of their trash in remote areas of Ouray County not designed for such a purpose. Overall, this is a significantly busier facility than I had imagined, and it is clear that we need to figure out a way to make sure it stays!
Waste Management has cited increasing hauling costs and low revenues as reasons for the purposed closure. The transfer station is actually located on County property, and Waste Management does not currently pay any sort of fee to be there. Historically, Ouray Commissioners have viewed the station as a service and have tried to ensure that the facility remains – offering a free location for their operation has been a part of that effort.
In addition to the property itself, the small gatehouse and fencing are also County property.
The BOCC met with Waste Management representatives last week in an effort to understand the reasons behind the closure, and to see if there were ways we could work together to keep the facility in Ouray County.
Waste Management has several policies at the corporate level that have made operations at the Ouray facility problematic. For one, they require video surveillance systems for cash management, as well as other security upgrades that will be fairly costly. Waste Management is not inclined to upgrade a facility which does not belong to them. Therefore, the County has asked for specifics on the requirements so that we can see what other options might be available to address these upgrades. That may mean applying for grants; it may mean an increase in fees.
We also discussed fee schedules with Waste Management, and have asked that they examine their operation to see what sort of increased fees might be required to make the transfer station a financially viable operation for them.
We don’t know what the end result will be, but we are going to try and work out a solution. If we can’t negotiate a resolution with Waste Management, there are other vendors we can work with. While the County itself is not in a position of taking over the transfer station, we do have options. Waste Management has been very open to working with the County and has expressed a desire to continue operating the transfer station. They have also committed to keeping the facility open while we try and work out a solution.
We expect to hear back from them in the upcoming weeks, and hope to figure out a solution before summertime. Thanks for your input and patience as we work to come up with a workable solution!