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Dickinson landfill fees increasing

Prices at the Dickinson landfill have jumped by 21 percent in the last two years and could continue to rise, pushing higher prices back on the consumers, officials said.

"In the past, we have tried to absorb as much of the cost as we can, but when it is such a significant increase ... we have to pass that onto the customer," said Mary Grover, Dickinson-based MGM Rural Sanitation LLC co-owner.

The landfill rate for mixed solid waste rose from $29 a ton to $31 a ton last year, according to a letter from MGM to the city of Gladstone. The prices increased again this year to $35 a ton. The letter goes on to say that "rates will approach $38 a ton by next January."

"MGM Rural Sanitation expects the landfill rates to reach $40 a ton by 2014," MGM owners Mark and Mary Grove wrote in the letter.

Dickinson Solid Waste Manager Aaron Praus confirmed the price increases from $29 to $35 a ton, but he didn't comment on future increases.

The prices get passed on to everybody, but the city can check for suspicious loads, said Jerry Volk, North Dakota Solid Waste and Recycling Association executive director. The phenomenon is state-wide.

"They are doing what they can, but I think for the most part they are spread across the board," he said.

By logic, the prices should increase, Volk said.

An increase in people coming to the area in response to an oil boom in western North Dakota has increased solid wastes, which in turn has increased labor costs, Praus said.

Dickinson has the only regional landfill in southwest North Dakota, which serves 23 communities.

Residents are not paying attention to what they are throwing away, which is adding unnecessary waste, Volk said.

"They don't have the staff to sort it," he said. "To pay for the bills, they have to do something."

MGM signs contracts with communities for a five-year period, which relatively "sets the prices in stone," she said.

The letter was sent out to cities so government officials could budget correctly for rising costs, Mary Grove said.

Dickinson also has multiple boxes across town labeled for recycling. If residents throw other materials in the boxes, it will go to the landfill, Praus said.

Residents can help stabilize the prices by consuming less waste, recycling and placing materials in the correct bins, Volk said.

"When they mix the stuff together, the city has to make a decision to spend the time sorting it out," he said. "It costs extra time. The bottom line is they got to pay their people."

MGM understands that Dickinson needs to increase its prices, Mary Grove said, adding it has "a very good working relationship with the city of Dickinson."

MGM serves multiple cities in Stark County.