State budget cuts in a program that collects toxic chemicals, and fee increases for garbage collection, could mean a dirtier Wisconsin, according to one local waste management expert.
As part of his budget proposal, Governor Jim Doyle has cut one million dollars in grants for the Clean Sweep program, which collects pesticides, drugs, paint, and other materials that should not go into landfills. Monroe County waste management administrator Gail Frie says the Clean Sweep cut essentially eliminates the program, because municipalities can't cover the higher fees. "This will be a pass through tax, because none of the county landfills that I'm aware of, or even any private landfills, have any cushion to absorb that tax."
Frie says that means residents would have to cover Clean Sweeps costs, and he thinks they might not be willing. "My concern is in rural areas, when you're struggling to pay for your food, fuel and housing, garbage might be something that you don't have as a priority anymore, and they'll just burn it or throw it in a ditch, and that has long term environmental effects."
Frie says disposal costs could jump by fifteen percent due to the fee increases, but he hopes they are scaled back in the final budget. Doyle has also proposed a $4.40 recycling and environmental fee increase per ton of regular waste.