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Rising costs, inflation impacting Public Works plans

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Solid Waste

Luke Rodig of Burns and McDonnell, and Rapid City Assistant Public Works Director Stacey Titus answer questions from Public Works Committee members Tuesday.

Inflation, the labor force and increased population have all added to Rapid City’s solid waste system.

“We’re doing everything we can to try to stabilize, put solid waste on a firm base,” Public Works Director Dale Tech said Tuesday. “We’ve got to be able to provide our basic services well, and that goes back to the closure of the north yard waste site. We just can’t service it with the staffing we have on hand and the current condition of things. Obviously price is a huge part of that.”

Assistant Public Works Director Stacey Titus and Luke Rodig with Burns and McDonnell presented a status update of the Solid Waste Master Plan to the Rapid City Council’s Public Works Committee Tuesday afternoon.

Rodig said the master plan hasn’t yet been finalized due to staffing challenges, but because of inflation and unexpected challenges, he recommends a further evaluation to incorporate updates — like impacts of cost escalations to the cost of service and rate projects, and possible changes in services — into the final report.

Titus said the plan is a five-year plan for the division to maintain operations and an increase in growth, and looked at long-term landfill disposal, which includes how much life is in the current facility before the city has to move on.

“We’re always planning and looking down the path that’s where we want to be,” he said.

Rodig said the planning project starts with looking at a history of tonnages, the growth of the city over the past year, then demographics and what’s projected for the future.

During the presentation, Rodig discussed rate changes that were approved in July 2021 for residential collection and landfill tonnage. He said the assumed recommendations with the rate adjustments is a discontinuation of the co-composting process and adjusting baseline needs of each operation, which includes additional full-time employees, annual equipment replacement costs, and capital improvement costs.

He said the numbers and recommendations were made based on year-end 2020 numbers.

Tech said the price of equipment plays a huge role, and those prices continue to increase, along with a high cost of fuel. He said every day the department has to consider the cost of doing business and making sure the city is providing basic services in a fiscally responsible way.

Despite continuing increases, Tech said the department hasn’t had to reallocate budget funds to cover increasing costs. He said the department looks at its expenses and revenues every day, and there could be a time when they have to take action, but they’re not at that point yet.

He said for solid waste and water reclamation, user fees pay for all of the services.

“There is no general fund, there’s no tax, sales tax, there’s no property tax,” Tech said. 

For future implementation, Rodig said the long-term disposal recommendation is expansion at the existing landfill instead of a new landfill or transferring to another landfill not owned by the city. He said expansion is the most economically viable option. He said that recommendation has not yet been presented to the Rapid City Council.

Titus said if the plan update is acknowledged Monday night at the council meeting, staff would move forward with sitting down with the consultant and negotiating an amendment to modify the contract to redo the cost of service model.

During the meeting, the committee approved a resolution to repeal a resolution imposing construction fees for Alma Street, Gladys Street and Lennon Lane for a low pressure south water main extension. The city has used construction fee resolutions to attempt to recuperate the cost of water and sewer system infrastructure expansion.

Tech said the method is unique to Rapid City and isn’t necessarily fair and equitable to future users. He said although this is a specific resolution for a specific project, it leads to a bigger picture. He said the department is thinking of other methods to use, but hasn’t made other decisions. 

— Contact Siandhara Bonnet at

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