Rhode Island’s cities and towns will pay more to toss their trash at the state’s Central Landfill starting this July as fees are set to increase 47 percent over the next two years.The “tipping fee” – the rate municipalities pay to dispose of trash by the ton – will increase from $32 per ton to $39.50 per ton in the 2017-2018 fiscal year and to $47 in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, said Michael OConnell, executive director of the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, the quasi-state agency that owns and operates the landfill and recycling facility in Johnston.

OConnell said the hike, which will collectively cost cities and towns $2.2 million in the year that begins in July, is a last resort to fund sorely needed expansion of the landfill. A 100-acre addition, approved by the Department of Environmental Management in 2011, is under construction now. This is the only way the landfill can accommodate the state’s trash until 2038, he said.

“The landfill is a finite resource for Rhode Island,” OConnell said in an interview.

Also a finite resource: municipal budgets, said Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien, president of the state’s League of Cities and Towns. He and Executive Director Brian Daniels are worried about the impact this will have on municipalities already struggling financially.

“There’s no doubt that cities and towns want to preserve the life of the landfill,” said Daniels. “But the frustration is, these communities lost over $200 million in state aid in the last few years. And now we have additional increases?”

Another way residents can prolong the life of the landfill is by parsing out recyclable materials from their trash. RIRRC derives revenue from selling recyclables to companies that will repurpose it, OConnell said.

But, he noted, recycling revenue has become less dependable over the last few years as demand for plastic, in particular, has waned.

The RIRRC was established by the General Assembly in 1974 to “seek the best mix of public and private processing, recycling and disposal systems, programs, and facilities for both commercial and municipal waste to meet Rhode Island’s needs,” according to the act that created the agency.

RIRRC workers are not state employees – they have an independent budget and bylaws, said OConnell – but they do “the state’s work” in handling nearly all of its garbage and recycling. Municipalities are required by state law to dump their trash at the facility. In exchange, they’ve been given “remarkably low rates and great service,” said OConnell.

The state does exercise some control over the RIRRC. It must submit its budget to the House fiscal adviser each year, send quarterly revenues and expenditures updates to the General Assembly, and each October a five-year financial projection, including an itemized list of principal revenue sources and expenditures by major program areas.

The agency’s board of commissioners, which voted on the increase earlier this month, is made up of nine people. OConnell, the independently hired executive director, and eight other people selected by the governor and confirmed in the Senate.

To read the full story, visit http://www.providencejournal.com/news/20170114/ri-landfill-fees-to-climb-47-percent-over-two-years.