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Waste Management: Elizabeth Forward board did not approach company before enacting tax

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Friday, April 25, 2014, 4:41 a.m.
 

Waste Management expressed surprise at Elizabeth Forward school board's imposition of a $3-a-ton landfill operations privilege tax.

“This action was taken by the school district without any communication with or to Waste Management,” the company's Western Pennsylvania spokeswoman Erika Deyarmin said on Thursday. “We were unaware that this was planned and have seen no formal copy of their actions.”

The school board passed the tax on Wednesday. It targets the Kelly Run landfill along Route 51 in Forward Township, the district's only such facility.

“Until we are able to further analyze the situation, we have no comment to provide at this time,” Deyarmin said.

Kelly Run has an average daily intake of 1,250 tons. Forward assesses a host municipality benefit fee of $1.30 a ton, allowed under Act 101 of 1988.

Elizabeth Forward's board approved the tax by a 5-3 vote, with board president Philip Martell, vice president Michael O'Rourke, treasurer Charles Bakewell and directors Jamie Evans and Francis Posa voting yes, and board secretary Margaret Morgan and directors Megan Ferraro and Dorothy Wycoff voting no.

Director Scott McVicker was absent.

“This is a user tax,” Martell said. “It is better than raising property taxes on families and senior citizens.”

The Kelly Run landfill is one of four operated by Waste Management within 15 miles of McKeesport.

Others are Valley Landfill along Pleasant Valley Road in Penn Township, the Arnoni landfill along Hill Road in South Park Township and a landfill along Thomas Street in Monroeville.

Penn Township charges $1 a ton for trash sent to Valley Landfill from within Westmoreland County, $1.25 a ton for trash from without.

That policy dated back to when landfills were fewer and farther between and it wasn't unusual for Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey or Maryland trash to be hauled there.

“Twenty years ago we generated $300,000 or $400,000 a year,” Penn Township manager Bruce R. Light said. “Now it is down to $150,000 because there are so many other landfills.”

Penn-Trafford School District, which includes Penn Township, has no such tax.

“I never heard of such a thing,” Light said of Elizabeth Forward's tax. “I didn't know that was legal.”

Martell suggested West Mifflin Area and West Allegheny had such taxes.

On its website Republic Services said West Allegheny School District gets $120,000 from its Imperial Landfill.

“Last year, our operations generated nearly $1.2 million in host community benefits and fees for Findlay Township,” Republic's website says.

Republic has other landfills in Collier Township and Scottdale and hauls trash from White Oak and Jefferson Hills.

According to its website, Jefferson Hills collects a $1.10-a-ton residual waste landfill ownership tax. The Arnoni landfill is not far over the South Park township line from Jefferson Hills.

West Mifflin school and borough officials said there's no such tax there. West Mifflin's public works department collects garbage and takes it to Waste Management's Kelly Run landfill.

Other Mon-Yough communities contracting Waste Management to haul trash include Duquesne, Elizabeth, Forward and North Huntingdon townships, and Glassport, Irwin, North Irwin, Pleasant Hills, Wall, West Elizabeth and Wilmerding.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or pcloonan@tribweb.com.

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