By increasing rates, Pima County has made its Tangerine Landfill "cost-prohibitive" to commercial trash haulers, DKL Holdings' Larry Henk believes.

He thinks the county is wise to increase commercial rates, because in doing so it reduces the volume of incoming trash, extends the life of the Tangerine Landfill and delays Pima County expenses related to its closure.

Tangerine "was taking about 400 tons a day when they were actively marketing themselves to commercial work," Henk estimates. His trash-hauling Tucson Recycling and Waste Services "used to use" Tangerine, he said. "We drove the extra eight, 10 miles" past Waste Management's transfer facility on Ina Road, which charged more. Tangerine was "more effective by the differential in the disposal rate." No longer.

"While they have not restricted commercial waste, they have raised rates to an above-market rate that had the same effect," Henk said.

Why? "The county doesn't have the money to cap Tangerine," Michael Racy, the government affairs representative and lobbyist representing DKL Holdings, told the Marana Town Council in July.

By raising rates, "Pima County is extending the life to avoid incurring that capping cost," Henk said. "There's nothing wrong with that, it's good management, candidly."

In the view of Henk and Racy, the county's dilemma creates an opportunity for the Marana Regional Landfill.

"Market pricing drove the volume out of Tangerine," Racy said. "There are opportunities to recover a lot of it through competitive pricing."

"We can retain some of the economics to the Tucson market that were lost," Henk said.

He's not ready to give an actual rate for trash disposal at the Marana Regional Landfill. "I know it will be (substantially) lower than transfer stations.

"With energy prices going up, with the logistics of the location, I can speak with confidence, and industry knowledge, that we'll be able to intercept some of the waste that's leaving this market," Henk said.

"That also goes to the issue of community benefits," Racy said. "Why should all of Northern Pima County care? First, we are paying a price penalty for that disposal to be hauled out of town. It's been a substantial amount already, and it is going to escalate with increasing fuel costs. … It is a drag on the kinds of economic development Marana wants to achieve.

"Employers, manufacturers, people who create jobs, one of the first things they look at is disposal costs," Racy continued. "That's one of the boxes they check. Waste disposal cost is a deficiency this can really remedy."

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