Sanitation board hikes cost of brush chipping, disposal from $25 to $34 per ton to cover its costs

The Dickson County Landfill will soon start charging 36 percent more for the disposal of brush. The Sanitation Board of Dickson County voted unanimously Tuesday night to increase the tipping fee for brush disposal from $25 to $34 per ton. Solid Waste Management Director Jim Lunn said the increased fee is needed to cover the department’s cost of brush chipping and disposal. Lunn said the amount of brush being brought to the landfill increased dramatically following significant ice storm events in December and March. Lunn told the board the landfill normally disposes of 800-900 tons of brush each year. With the brush brought in following the two ice storms, Lunn said the landfill has received 2,200 tons just since December, meaning it will likely end up tripling the amount of brush for the year. While the landfill contracts Queen’s Tree Surgery of Nashville for brush chipping and disposal at an hourly rate, Lunn said he calculated the additional brush coming into the landfill this year has pushed the department’s actual cost to about $33.87 per ton. “I just don’t think we should be charging 25 (dollars) and spending 33 (dollars). I mean, that’s too out of kilter,” Lunn said. The major contributors of brush at the landfill are ABC Tree Services of Chattanooga, the contractor for Dickson Electric Service, the city of Dickson Public Works Department and the Dickson County Highway Department. Lunn said the landfill has been charging $25 per ton for brush disposal since 1992 and used to incinerate brush until air pollution control made it stop. The department’s current budget shows $45,000 in anticipated income from brush disposal and $65,000 in expenses for chipping and disposing of brush. The board voted to increase the tipping fee for brush to $34 and Lunn said he would give a 60-day notice to the major brush contributors before the new fee takes effect. The increased fee could force the city and county to revise their budgeted amounts for brush disposal. The Dickson County Highway Department currently has $75,000 in its line item for striping and brush chipping, which is up from $67,000 this fiscal year and more than double the $36,000 spent in 2012-13. Dickson Public Works Director Jeff Lewis told the city council in March that his department normally budgets $25,000-$35,000 a year for brush disposal, but the debris from the December ice storm had put the department more than $20,000 over budget without even accounting for the majority of brush from the March storm. Both the county commission and Dickson City Council are scheduled to finalize their 2014-15 budgets Monday night.