RI landfill agency OKs 23% hike in trash fees

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island cities and towns will be paying more to dump trash in the state’s central landfill starting later this year.

The board of the R.I. Resource Recovery Corporation, the quasi-public agency that manages the Johnston landfill, voted last month to raise the so-called “municipal tip fee” by 23% effective July 1, agency executive director Michael OConnell confirmed Thursday.

The new fee will be $39.50 a ton, up from the current level of $32. It’s the first increase since 1992, OConnell said in an email.

The increase is no surprise; OConnell has been warning for years that the cost to dump trash in Rhode Island would need to rise as the landfill fills up. The hike was approved a year after officials began burying trash in the last empty section of the landfill, which is expected to be used up by 2038.

“Significant upfront capital investment is now required to build the cell infrastructure over the next few years and that is what has triggered this first increase in 25 years,” OConnell said.

The increased cost for an average-sized municipality will be $55,000 in the 2017-18 budget year, he said, adding that communities can also consider other options to reduce costs, such as pay-as-you-throw rules or eliminating the contamination of recycled waste.

According to the agency, the new fee will still be below the actual cost of trash disposal, which OConnell pegged at $54 a ton. The agency’s fee for businesses is $65 a ton, which effectively subsidizes the municipal fee.

“It is also well below the market rate in Connecticut and Massachusetts which is between $65 and $80 per ton,” OConnell said.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

An earlier version of this article misspelled Micheal OConnell’s surname, which does not have an apostrophe.