Solid Waste Fund - 2010 Budget Message

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The Solid Waste Fund is an enterprise fund which is intended to be self-supporting through user fees charged for services to residential customers. The purpose of the Solid Waste Fund is to account for revenues and expenditures related to State mandated disposal of refuse.

The 2010 Solid Waste Fund revenue budget is $6.7 million or $219,000 (-3.2%) lower than the 2009 Budget. The Fund’s primary revenue source is the Solid Waste fees, budgeted to raise $5.7 million in 2010.

For the first time in eleven years, the annual solid waste fees will be increased for 2010, per the SW fee ordinance adopted by the Board on October 21, 2009. The rate structure was completely changed, with a new base fee of $204, plus $50 per container (up to 45 gallons and 50 pounds). A new “mini-can” rate of $179 was also created. A new rear yard collection fee (RYCF) of $200 per year for refuse and recycling placed more than five feet from the curb line was also added.

It is anticipated that the majority of households will convert to curbside collection for 2010. A major public information and education process is currently underway, including a subscription sign-up mailing to all of the 16,700 households receiving Township collection services. Residents will be asked to reply by December 4, 2009 with their 2010 subscription selections.

Solid Waste Fee Subscriptions 2009 Fees 2010 Fees Annual Increase
New 1 Mini-Can(20-gallon container)
1 Container
2 Containers
3 Containers
4 Containers
5 Containers
6 Containers
7 Containers
8 Containers
Rear Yard Collection Fee

The Solid Waste Fund had long been subsidized in the form of an annual transfer from the GF to fully finance its operations. The subsidy/transfer from the GF to the Solid Waste Fund is estimated in 2009 at $1.32 million. By raising the SW fees for 2010, the GF subsidy is expected to only be $10,000, or the amount projected to represent discounts provided for lower income senior citizens or disabilities waivers for those physically unable to transport their refuse and recycling to curbside. Without raising the SW fees for 2010, an approximate $1.7 million GF subsidy would have been necessary.

The Township’s comprehensive residential recycling collection program continues to be very successful and is considered one of the best in Pennsylvania. In 2008, the total percentage of waste diverted (including all recycled materials) from the residential waste stream was approximately 47%, compared to 51% in 2007 and 49% for 2006. Although declining due to less paper being recycled, the 2008 recycling performance still far exceeds the State (Act 101) goal of 35%. The Township dual stream recycling program collects approximately 2,300 tons of commingled materials (glass, metal, and plastic food and beverage containers) and approximately 4,200 tons of mixed paper annually. The Township anticipates commingled disposal costs to decrease ($54 per ton in 2009) significantly and mixed paper to generate healthy revenues in 2010 as a result of bids to be opened on November 12, 2009. Although bids will also be requested for single stream recycling (combining comingle and paper), it is anticipated that single stream bids will prove to be more costly by approximately $400,000 than the Township’s dual stream residential recycling program.

The 2010 Proposed Solid Waste Fund expenditure budget is $6.7 million. This is lower than the 2009 expenditure budget by approximately $124,000 (-1.8%). One of the primary operating expenditures, refuse disposal costs, represents approximately $1.2 million or about 18.5% of the total 2010 Expenditure Budget. The 2010 refuse disposal costs are $176,000 (-12.4%) lower than the 2009 Budget as a result of decreased refuse tonnage, which is also being experienced throughout the nation. In recent years, the refuse tipping fee at the trash-to-steam facility in Plymouth Township, which is paid by the Township and the other 21 member municipalities of the Waste System Authority of Eastern Montgomery County (WSA), has decreased as the direct result of debt restructuring, cost containment, and higher sale prices for wholesale electricity generated by the trash-to-steam plant. The WSA has significantly decreased refuse per ton tipping fees in recent years, from $77 in 2005, to $75 in 2006, $70 in 2007, $67 in 2008 and $63 in 2009. The 2010 rate will remain at $63, and is forecasted to be sustainable for the foreseeable future. Even with this substantial disposal cost reduction, the 2010 tipping fee will remain higher than the approximately $53 per ton price charged by area landfills; however, the Township is required to dispose of its refuse at the trash-to-steam facility through 2014. Plans are underway to determine disposal options beyond 2014.

As a result of the new $200 per year RYCF, it is anticipated that approximately 7,000 (of the current 10,000) households will convert to placement of their refuse and recycling containers to within 5 feet of the curb line. If this occurs, approximately 3,000 households will retain rear yard collection services, which will allow one fewer 3-person refuse collection crew to be needed. Therefore, 3 full-time positions are being eliminated for the 2010 Budget: one Refuse Truck Driver (currently vacant) and two Refuse Collectors (who will be transferred to fill vacancies in the currently under-staffed Highway and/or Parks Divisions.) Also, less labor pool hours and costs are anticipated to be needed for 2010; a reduction of 1.5 FTE is therefore budgeted. This follows the elimination of two full-time vacant refuse positions in the 2009 Budget.

In addition, the Township has a long-term agreement with the WSA, which provides cost sharing for operating and capital expenses of the Township’s Transfer Station in Penn Valley. The Proposed 2010 Budget includes annual operating expense reimbursements estimated to be approximately $0.2 million. Further, the WSA now contributes a pro-rated 70% share of all costs relating to capital improvements at the Township’s refuse transfer station in Penn Valley. Also, the Township receives approximately $0.4 million in annual recycling performance grants from the State.

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