Waste disposal is an ongoing issue in Skagway. Last month the municipality raised the cost for disposing of commercial trash. Public Works says that decision was a long time coming.

Rates to dispose of commercial trash went up in Skagway last month. The rate more than quadrupled—from about $16 a yard to $68—on April 1st.

Orion Hanson is an assembly member and the Chairman of the Public Works Committee. He says this was no April Fool’s joke.

“It was not a decision that you’re gonna make a lot of friends from,” he said.

He got lots of negative feedback, but he says the decision was overdue and that rates should have been going up incrementally over the last couple of decades. That’s why the price jumped so much.

“We were subsidizing commercial degree about four times compared to the revenues being received,” he said.

The costs to dispose of commercial debris is so high because Skagway is out of landfill space. If the municipal incinerator can’t handle the waste—say sheet rock or even an old mattress—it has to be put on a ferry and shipped to the dump in Haines, Community Waste Solutions.

The municipality calculated that it costs nearly $68 per yard to ship commercial and construction debris, which is how they came up with the new rate.

In the last fiscal year  the municipality spent nearly $48,000 to ship out commercial debris. But the fee at that time covered less than a quarter of the cost. The municipality absorbed the cost, which means taxpayers rather than commercial comapnies made up the remaining $36,000. The fee hike is intended to eliminate this problem.

Hanson is himself a contractor, and says he feels the pinch.

“That’s the cost of business,” he said. “And unfortunately it’s getting passed on to consumers.”