Council vetoes JB Green fee

STEUBENVILLE – City Council members voted unanimously Thursday evening to oppose a designation fee requested by the JB Green Team, setting the stage for a possible confrontation at Monday’s JB Green Team board meeting.

Council members listened to arguments for 90 minutes from JB Green Team Executive Director Cliff Meyer and Jefferson County Commissioner Tom Gentile, who lobbied in favor of a $2 designation fee to help financially aid the cash-strapped solid waste authority.

Steubenville, as the largest city in Jefferson County, along with Martins Ferry and the commissioners from Jefferson and Belmont counties have the power to veto the designation fee.

According to Gentile, the commissioners from both counties and Martins Ferry council approved the designation fee.

“The designation fee will cost your residents 17 cents a month, or $2 a year. It will allow us to continue our current services and also allows us to tap into the oil and gas industry waste,” said Gentile.

But Mayor Domenick Mucci argued against the designation fee, saying it would forever remove the veto power of the Steubenville Council.

“Our time is now to veto the plan,” Mucci told council members during a council-as-a-whole committee meeting.

“This council will be faced with asking our citizens to pay more for their sanitation services. There is a lot to all of this. I don’t think this council is ready to dictate an increase in our sanitation fees,” noted Mucci.

Eleven members of the JB Green Team board of directors who attended the April monthly meeting unanimously approved a motion to seek the designation fee. Four board members of the board were not present at the meeting.

The designation fee would mean communities taking municipal solid waste to landfills outside of Jefferson and Belmont counties would pay an extra fee.

“I know the Jefferson County commissioners won’t oppose the designation fee plan. And, I have talked to three of the Steubenville Council members who support the fee,” said Gentile during the April meeting.

The JB Green Team must receive support from the county commissioners in Belmont and Jefferson counties, the cities of Steubenville and Martins Ferry and 60 percent of the political subdivisions in both counties.

Meyer said the solid waste authority’s financial woes started late last year when the Apex Sanitary Landfill sold its rail assets and announced the landfill would stop accepting out-of-state municipal solid waste that reduced tipping fees paid to the JB Green Team.

“Our traditional funding came from Apex and 96 percent of the Apex funds came from out-of-state garbage. We have a big unknown here. The landfill is in a state of transition. We know the landfill is being marketed. I don’t want to speculate on the future of the landfill,” said Meyer.

“We can’t force out-of-state landfills to give us tipping fees. But we can set designation fees for garbage taken to the out-of-state landfills. It levels the playing field. Steubenville takes its solid waste to the Brooke County landfill. The $20,000 a year designation fees will cost 17 cents a year for the average homeowner,” added Meyer.

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