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WLSSD Board Approves 2015 Budget

Duluth, MN –  The Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD) Board of Directors approved its 2015 operating and capital budgets at its regular Board meeting last night. Rate changes for wastewater services will result in an increase of less than 1 percent for nearly all the 17 communities served by WLSSD.

“We’ve contained costs for our wastewater services and been able to keep rates relatively flat over the past five years,” said Marianne Bohren, WLSSD Executive Director. “Our major cost driver is electricity, where we’ve seen a 53% rate increase over the past eight years. With electricity making up 20% of our operating costs we are excited to begin the first phase of our energy self sufficiency projects.”
WLSSD’s capital improvement budget, also approved at the meeting, includes the first of four phases of WLSSD’s energy project that will move the District toward energy self-sufficiency. The 2015 energy projects will prepare the District for the future installation of equipment that allows WLSSD to generate electricity to cover a portion of its electrical needs.

The Board also approved a 20% increase to Solid Waste Management Fees effective January 1, 2015. Executive Director Marianne Bohren stated, “About 70% of the cost of providing recycling, solid waste education, composting and hazardous waste services to the region are covered by solid waste management fees collected on residential property taxes and by fees included on residential and commercial garbage bills. These fees have remained unchanged over the past nine years while the amount of materials being successfully diverted from landfilling through these programs has increased significantly. As a result, garbage volumes have decreased and recycling rates have increased. This is excellent news, however with funding for these programs directly tied to garbage volumes we are challenged by reduced revenue and increased demand for these programs. It is time to adjust these fees to ensure we continue to increase recycling and protect our environment well into the future.”

The WLSSD Board approved the following changes to the Solid Waste Management Fees, effective January 1, 2015, under a two-part system adopted in 1997:

  • The hauler-collected portion of SWMFs for residents will not increase in 2015, remaining at $0.0085 per gallon. The fee collected on residential property taxes will increase from $18 per year to $25 per year. Seasonal properties will be charged $12.50 per year.
  • Non-residential garbage producers will pay an increased hauler collected fee on their garbage bill. This fee will increase from the current $1.96 per cubic yard of non-compacted garbage to $2.35 per cubic yard (compacted garbage fees increasing from $3.92/cubic yard to $4.70/cubic yard.

Western Lake Superior Sanitary District provides award-winning wastewater and solid waste services within a 530 square mile service area and is a nationally recognized leader in pollution prevention. Governed by a nine-member citizen board, WLSSD is a special purpose subdivision of the State of Minnesota. Its legislative boundaries include the cities of Duluth, Cloquet, Carlton, Scanlon, Wrenshall, Hermantown, Proctor, and Thomson; and the rural townships of Silverbrook, Thomson, Twin Lakes, Canosia, Duluth, Grand Lake, Lakewood, Midway, Rice Lake, and Solway.

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NEWS RELEASE
For immediate release: 9:00 a.m., Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Contact: Marianne Bohren, Executive Director,
(218) 740-4805
Karen L. Anderson, Director of Community Relations
(218) 740-4776

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