Government

Future of Cedar Rapids/Linn County trash in hands of Marion City Council

Solid Waste Agency's proposal will include 'host fee' for city

Trucks unload at the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency landfill last year on County Home Road in Marion. The a
Trucks unload at the Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency landfill last year on County Home Road in Marion. The agency will be talking to the Marion City Council in June about a proposal to add a sixth cell to the landfill to extend its life to 2074. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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MARION — The people who run the landfill serving Linn County communities will be approaching the Marion City Council in June, asking to expand the landfill on the city’s northeast border and to negotiate a “host fee” for Marion.

The Cedar Rapids/Linn County Solid Waste Agency is proposing to add a sixth cell to the landfill, 1954 County Home Rd., which would add 25 years to the landfill’s life, taking it into 2074.

The agency is proposing paying Marion a host fee of $1 per ton of garbage, or $10 million over the life of the landfill.

Without the expansion, the garbage now collected from 17 communities would need to be transported out of county, to perhaps another state, starting in 2044, agency officials say.

That could more than double the current tipping fee of $40 a ton — and the garbage bills residents pay.

It also possibly could cause the loss of about 30 jobs and lead to more illegal dumping in the county, according to the agency’s Morgan May.

The Marion City Council has agreed to respond to the solid waste agency’s proposal 30 to 60 days after receiving the formal proposal.

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Under the proposal, the landfill would not add more land but would expand to within 600 feet of its property line, which is in line with regulations set by the Iowa Department of Natural Resource.

The solid waste agency, which is now opening a fifth cell at the landfill, hopes Marion leaders will agree to a sixth.

“We’ve been talking about this for a long time. It’s a question we’ve been afraid to ask an answer we certainly need,” Mike Duffy, streets superintendent for the city of Cedar Rapids and a member of the solid waste agency’s board, said during a Tuesday agency board meeting over Zoom.

Cedar Rapids City Council member Tyler Olson, also an agency board member, said he did not want possible host fees to be part of the conversation with Marion officials, given that he sees advantages to Marion having the landfill operating an additional 25 years.

“I think there’s some value to not having to do the transfer (station) and having a local resource as a place to take our trash,” Olson said.

Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson of Marion, an agency board member, favored offering Marion a host fee, saying the agency also is appealing to the citizens of Marion.

“They’re not going to do this out of the kindness of their heart,” Oleson said. “A bunch of people in Cedar Rapids put a landfill in the path of our growth. That’s the way they view it. What is the amount of money we can offer to get them to at least negotiate to extend this an additional 25 years?”

The landfill along County Home Road opened in 1972 with a 30-acre cell. Its footprint is now about 360 acres.

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The solid waste agency has maintained there is no other place in Linn County to site a landfill and, as of now, there are no viable alternatives to landfilling.

Joe Horaney, communications director for the Solid Waste Agency, said the agency is working to find an “environmentally sound and economically viable alternative to landfilling” by at least 2074.

“Having the extra capacity is like insurance in case a viable alternative is not found,” Horaney told the agency’s board Tuesday.

The operation of the landfill was set up in a 2006 settlement between the agency and the city of Marion.

The agreement reopened the Marion landfill after the closing of the Mount Trashmore landfill in Cedar Rapids. Under the agreement, the final elevation of the landfill is not to exceed 914 feet above sea level. The setback of the landfill from Artesian Road was then set at 1,800 feet.

Comments: (319) 398-8411; grace.king@thegazette.com

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