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New $3-per-visit landfill fees generating $32,500 monthly

People making fewer visits but leaving same amount of trash

Around $32,500 a month is being collected from the newly implemented $3 landfill fee at Central Maui Landfill. And Maui County officials said they are not seeing an increase in the amount of trash outside the dump, which was a concern when the department initially requested establishing a fee to generate revenue from people who dump their trash at the landfill.

Department of Environmental Management Deputy Director Michael Miyamoto provided an update on the program to members of the County Council’s Budget and Finance Committee Tuesday.

Since July, the county has been charging people $3 each when they bring their trash to Central Maui Landfill.

Miyamoto said the $3 fee pays for a portion of the $12 per person actual cost for the county to operate the landfill. Those costs include paying workers to compact and cover trash with dirt or a tarp daily.

Council Chairman Mike White said he was happy to hear that people have not been leaving trash outside the landfill.

“I think that was one of the big concerns we had in implementing the fee,” he said.

However, some council members noted that there were complaints about people dumping appliances and cars around the landfill.

Miyamoto said the problem with appliances and cars is not related to the $3 fee because such items were not taken at the landfill before the new fee was established.

In connection with spending $200,000 already collected from the $3 fees, the Budget Committee Tuesday recommended approval of a bill to appropriate $150,000 from the program to purchase an automated fee collection gate and system.

Now, the county contracts out for a cashier to collect the money, Miyamoto said. But, with the gate system, members of the public can deposit their money into a machine and an electronic arm would permit entry to the landfill.

Overall, Miyamoto said, that there are fewer vehicles coming to the landfill since the implementation of the fee. He told council members that trash tonnage remains at regular levels of around 2,000 tons per month.

Outside the meeting, Miyamoto said that, prior to the fee implementation, motorists waited outside for the landfill gates to open, but now that’s not the case. He assumed that people were not making multiple trips to the landfill. Instead, they are accumulating their refuse before making a trip to the dump, he said.

According to calculations by the department following the meeting, Miyamoto said that prior to the fee implementation, the Central Maui Landfill was averaging 600 vehicles per day. After the fee program was implemented, the landfill sees about 445 vehicles per day. So there is about a 25 percent reduction in vehicles per day.

In an unrelated agenda item Tuesday, the committee learned there was not much interest in a request for proposal to buy 55 residential lots in Kahului for a “discounted price” of $8 million with affordable housing restrictions. The lots were acquired in August 2011 by the county for $11.8 million as part of a settlement with developer VP & PK LLC in a dispute over fill and grade heights for homes more than a decade ago, county officials have said.

Finance Director Mark Walker told members Tuesday that the proposal went out on Jan. 5 and there was an open house inspection on Jan. 16. The bids closed on Feb. 6.

Two people came out to ask questions at the open house, he said, and “that was the extent of that.”

The county got a bid for $2.5 million, which was below the asking price of $8 million, Walker said.

When asked, Walker said he did not receive feedback personally about the county’s request for proposals, but he has heard secondhand that people thought the price was too high and that developers could not pay what the county was asking and still put up the required affordable housing.

Committee Chairman Riki Hokama said the committee took comments from housing advocates to try to get the property to be developed for affordable housing, so the council included that in the proposal to see if there would be a response.

He said if that worked, then the county and the community could be winners on all sides.

“Unfortunately, no one responded,” Hokama said.

He said he would return to an original proposal to do a bulk sale.

Prior to the council’s action on the matter to put forward the proposal, Mayor Alan Arakawa put together a task force in late 2016 to consider options for the properties. Members included Hokama as chairman, and representatives from the departments of Public Works and Housing and Human Concerns. The task force recommended that the parcels be sold for $9.8 million because the option presented the least market risk to the county and would be a quick way for the county to recoup some of the sale price.

On Tuesday, committee members had mixed feelings on what the next steps would be, with Hokama saying he would place the matter on future agenda.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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