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No go for flow control; city to weigh trash options
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MONROE - The Monroe Common Council on Tuesday set May 1 as the deadline to decide how to move forward with its usage of the Green County transfer station.

"It'll be an interesting five weeks," Mayor Bill Ross said.

The council will have to look at the cost of either joining back as a member to dispose of Monroe's trash at the county transfer station near Brodhead, or seek other options to dispose of trash, such as hauling it to an alternative site in Janesville directly. The transfer station holds trash until it is shipped to Janesville to be buried permanently.

A flow-control ordinance, requested by the Green County Solid Waste Management Board that oversees the transfer station, would have required private commercial haulers to take trash to the county facility, just as the city takes refuse collected from residents. Requiring commercial haulers to use the facility would help keep the facility financially viable, the board said.

But flow control is off the table for the transfer station, due to legal parameters that City Attorney Rex Ewald said would require the transfer station to take in recyclable materials along with residential waste if such an ordinance was enacted.

As flow control was determined to not be legally viable, the next problem is deciding if Monroe's waste will continue to go to the transfer station. Monroe provides about half the tonnage dumped at the transfer station, so if Monroe pulls out permanently, the site will cease to operate, county operators say.

Monroe dropped its membership with the station in January, citing in part its concern over unforeseen operational costs. As a result, its tipping fee jumped from $47 to $52 per ton.

A five-year agreement was posed to the Green County Waste Management Board, which oversees the transfer station, to find a flexible price, but the trash business has price spikes and dips almost monthly so the board rejected the agreement.

Monroe residents can haul items the city won't collect from the curb in normal trash collection to the transfer station. But since Monroe's non-membership, fees have jumped up for residents.

"I'm surprised we haven't found couches on the side of the road," Alderwoman Brooke Bauman said.

Bauman stressed that the council has been debating what to do with the city's trash for at least three years and a decision needs to be finalized, so she suggested the May 1 date.

"This is a service," she said. "What we need to determine is what that service is worth."

Alderman Michael Boyce said he was more inclined to agree with some of the options laid out by City Administrator Phil Rath and potentially seeking alternatives to the transfer station.

"We've been talking in a loop and can't seem to get out of it," Boyce said. "I can't fault Monroe for looking for a better mouse trap."

Rich Vogel of the waste management board said he doesn't want to lose Monroe's waste, but the board wouldn't pursue legal action if the city decides to dump elsewhere.

"We don't have anything to lose personally," Vogel said.

Harvey Mandel sits on the waste management board and suggested the city take only residential waste, with no commercial waste. Three companies that service Monroe use the county's transfer station.

A lobbyist for the National Waste & Recycling Association Chad Lawler said his association represents the three commercial companies that dump at the county's transfer station. Lawler offered to meet with both council members and board members to hammer out a solution to the problem before a potential decision is made.

Mandel said having Monroe haul its waste to Janesville and bypass the transfer station as suggested would be likened to suicide.

"Are we going to put a rope around our neck, stand up on a chair and see how long we can stand it?" Mandel asked.