The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) sought the blessing of Prairie Township Trustees before proceeding to raise fees at the landfill to be paid by Franklin County residents.

The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio (SWACO) sought the blessing of Prairie Township Trustees before proceeding to raise fees at the landfill to be paid by Franklin County residents.

Ron Mills, SWACO's executive director, walked away from trustees' meeting Wednesday night without their blessing.

Mills proposes that Franklin County residents pay an increased tipping fee that would cost residents an additional $6 annually for the county's landfill. The cost would be paid by residents through the billing of their contracted trash hauler, he said.

The rate increase would be incremental through a period of two years, Mills said. If the SWACO board approves the rate increase, it will be able to generate $2.7-million starting in 2011 and $5.4-million per year beginning in 2012.

"Our board made a commitment that we would be open and transparent," Mills said. "We are asking local communities if they support the rate increase. Our board will look at the tally of votes for and against and make a decision on whether or not to adopt the rate increase."

Should the board decide to go ahead with a rate increase, that money would be directed towards three major initiatives.

The first will be to spend $650,000 to rebuild the Morse Road Transfer Station which is currently leased from the city of Columbus and is in terrible condition, he said.

"It would cost the same to rebuild as to maintain the building as it currently is," Mills said.

Secondly, $3.5-million will go toward eliminating debt financing of short-term capital needs. "We need to eliminate the long standing practice of borrowing money for capital needs," Mills said.

Lastly, $1.2-million will go towards the repayment of future debt obligations for landfill improvements and related capital facility needs. The board plans to rebuild an access road to the landfill located in the southwest portion of Franklin County.

Mills said SWACO has made significant budget reductions over the past two years by reducing its workforce by 14 percent and renegotiating yard waste contracts, saving $500,000.

Without a rate increase, he said, Franklin County residents could see delays in waste collection due to either the closing of waste transfer stations or restricted hours at the landfill that will have to be put in place to save money.

Trustees did not vote to support the rate increase, nor to oppose it.

Mills said he has visited almost all 41 Franklin County communities. The SWACO board is expected to vote on the issue in the next few weeks.