A bill pre-filed in the State Senate would eliminate the 20 solid waste management districts in the state, and lower the landfill fees that fund them. The management districts, most of which cover multiple counties, help local entities get grants to help pay for recycling programs or other efforts to divert material from landfills.
State Senator Kurt Schaefer’s bill would eliminate those districts. It would instead direct the money from landfill fees directly to the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which would award the grants directly. He calls the management districts an antiquated bureaucracy – a middleman that can legally spend up to half of its budget on administrative costs.
“20, 30 years ago, you certainly needed to provide some incentives to get people to recycle and promote some programs and that kept things from going to landfills, but that is such a mature market now, and landfill space is so expensive,” Schaefer said.
Deanna Trass is the Executive Director of the Mid Missouri Solid Waste Management District, which covers 8 counties. She argues it can’t be antiquated, since the grant programs are only growing. She also says it’s unrealistic for the DNR to pick up the organizational duties of the 20 management districts in the state.
“They can’t monitor, DNR has a lot on their plate as it is, they created the districts because it allowed projects actually to be looked at fully. It gives each county the opportunity to actually implement something that will help the county,” Trass said.
The bill would lower the fees collected per ton at landfills in the state, but Schaefer estimates it wouldn’t actually lower the amount of grant money available to cities and counties, it would just eliminate the budget for administrative costs. The legislative session starts January 9th.