The city accounts for 25% to 30% of the waste the landfill receives.
The cost of throwing things out in Madison is getting more expensive. Dane County is proposing to hike the city's tipping fee at the Rodefeld landfill from $40 to $50 a ton next year.
Since the city disposes about 48,000 tons of waste there every year, it will have to find an extra half-million in its 2014 operating budget, says recycling coordinator George Dreckmann.
"We're going to have to find the money somewhere," he says. Or take the city's trash elsewhere. Dreckmann says the city will ask for bids from area landfills to see if it can find a cheaper rate. There are landfills in Janesville, Delavan, Johnson Creek and Rockford.
John Welch, Dane County's solid waste manager, says the hike -- which still has to be approved by the Dane County Board and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi -- is needed to pay for a $20 million expansion of the landfill. "That has to be paid in some way," Welch says. "We're completely off the tax rolls."
The city accounts for 25% to 30% of the waste the landfill receives, he says. Rates for other haulers will not go up as much, but Welch says that's partly because they’ve seen significant hikes in recent years.
One way to offset the increased cost of disposing of trash is building a biodigester to process food waste -- a project the city has put on hold for a year. A biodigester uses bacteria to break down organic waste, creating two usable byproducts: methane and fertilizer. About 15,000 to 20,000 tons of the city's annual waste is food waste, a potential savings of $1 million at the $50 tipping rate.
Mayor Paul Soglin supports building a biodigester but reluctantly tabled the project to fund other initiatives next year.