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Great Lakes Article:

Trash talk: majority of Council opposes state garbage bill
By Renee Lapham Collins
The Saline Reporter

The Michigan Legislature canít refuse trash from Canada or other states, due to rules governing interstate commerce and free trade agreements.

But, it can devise plans to limit or even reduce the amount of waste brought into the Great Lakes State.

This week, the Legislature is considering a number of laws that would provide greater protection to Michiganís natural resources and to residents dependent on those resources. Senate Bill 721 is one of those vehicles.

The key element in the proposal is a $3 increase in the tipping fees charged at landfills.

At its Monday night meeting, the Saline City Council approved in a 6-2 vote a resolution opposing SB 721 on the grounds that it would only increase the cost of rubbish pick-up in the city. Mayor Pro-tem Phyllis Martin and Councilman Rick Kuss voted against the resolution.

Right now, the city is charged $11.72 per household per month for solid waste services from Waste Management. City Administrator Larry Stoever told Council in a memo that the increase in fees would translate into a $10 increase per household for rubbish pickup.

"A very rough estimate is that this tipping fee could increase solid waste costs for Saline in the neighborhood of $30,000-$50,000 per year," wrote Stoever.

He indicated that about 10 percent of the revenue generated by the tipping fee increase would go to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for an annual litter study. Five million would be used for "tax incentives for recycling goods.

"The remainder or about 80 percent would be funneled back to county government, which would have sole responsibility for determining how such funds would be allocated," Stoever explained.

Cities then would apply to the county for grants to help fund recycling programs.

Currently, the City of Salineís waste contractor has a curbside recycling program that gives residents the opportunity to recycle without having to drive to a separate facility. While there is a limit on the number of rubbish containers that will be picked up by Waste Management workers, there is no limit on the amount of recyclables that are placed at the curb, according to DPW Director George Danneffel.

The Michigan Municipal League opposes SB 721 on the grounds that it would create a new tax for residents who live in communities that have funded local recycling programs for years. In his testimony before the Senate, Joseph Fivas, manager of transportation and environmental affairs for the MML, said that "SB 721 will impose significant new costs on our communities, without demonstrably improving our recycling program performance."

Mary Lirones, chair of the cityís Environmental Commission, was vehement in her comments about SB 721 and the Council resolution.

"Michiganís tipping fees are low, and that encourages imported solid waste," Lirones told the Council. "Saline needs more research on this-this is the kind of thing that you should have the Environmental Commission looking at."

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