When they met Tuesday, Leavenworth city commissioners voted to change how garbage from the city is disposed of in the future.

When they met Tuesday, Leavenworth city commissioners voted to change how garbage from the city is disposed of in the future.

Leavenworth officials plan to continue to operate a city curbside trash collection service. But beginning next year, the garbage collected through the city's solid waste service will be hauled to a landfill in Johnson County instead of the Leavenworth County Transfer Station, which is located in Lansing.

Commissioners voted to accept a bid from Waste Management, Shawnee, for a one-year contract with a solid waste disposal fee of $24 per ton.

City Manager Paul Kramer said the city collects about 12,000 tons of garbage per year.

Leavenworth Public Works Director Mike McDonald said city officials started looking at a possible change in solid waste disposal services after learning the county is raising the rate charged for the disposal of garbage at the Transfer Station.

“It caused us to take a look at our disposal options,” he said.

He said the county is raising the fee charged to the city from $35 per ton to $45 per ton in 2019.

County Administrator Mark Loughry, who did not attend Tuesday's meeting, has said a mill levy for property taxes has always been used to support the Transfer Station. But county officials are looking to make the Transfer Station more user fee based.

Even with anticipated increases in costs for vehicle maintenance and fuel, hauling garbage to the Waste Management facility instead of the Transfer Station should save the city an estimated $196,428 next year, according to information provided to commissioners.

Currently, the city hauls sludge from the Leavenworth wastewater treatment plant to a Hamm landfill near Lawrence. But as part of the contract with Waste Management, sludge from the wastewater treatment plant will be hauled to the company's Johnson County facility next year.

In addition to a one-year contract, Waste Management offered the city the option of a three-year contract for a rate of $23 per ton, subject to 3 percent annual increase, and a five-year contract at a rate of $22 per ton, subject to a 3 percent annual increase.

Mayor Mark Preisinger questioned why city staff members were not recommending a longer contract for a lower fee.

Kramer said if the first year goes well, city officials may seek a longer contract in the future.

Scott Cornell from Waste Management attended Tuesday's meeting. He said city officials will have the ability during the year to renegotiate for a longer contract.

Commissioner Mike Griswold expressed concern about the possible wear and tear on the city's refuse trucks as they are driven longer distances to the Waste Management facility.

“I wish we could work with the county, but we've got to save our taxpayers money,” Commissioner Nancy Bauder said.

The vote to approve the contract was 4-0. Commissioner Larry Dedeke was absent.

McDonald said the contract will be signed following a review by the city attorney and city manager.

The city's proposed operating budget for 2019 includes an 8 percent rate increase for refuse services.

Even though it is estimated that the contract with Waste Management will save the city money, the refuse rate is still being increased because of a needed purchase of a refuse truck as well as other increased expenses for things such as health insurance and pay raises, Kramer said.

If the city continued using the Transfer Station next year with the county's increased fee, it would have been necessary to raise the city's refuse rate by 34 percent, Kramer said.

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