SPSA proposes raises

Published 9:32 pm Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The regional trash authority unveiled a budget Wednesday that includes a 3-percent raise for its employees.

The $44.65 million budget was down 9 percent from the current fiscal year’s spending plan. Southeastern Public Service Authority board members will discuss the budget in March.

Other increased expenses in the SPSA budget include fuel costs and a projected $82,500 for tolls expected to begin this summer on the Midtown and Downtown tunnels between Norfolk and Portsmouth.

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Even so, the authority plans a $20 per-ton decrease in the tipping fee, which would now be $125. Suffolk pays no tipping fees because it hosts the regional landfill.

The authority has budgeted for a 3-percent increase in trash tonnages, which is its major source of income. Tipping fees account for 96 percent of total revenues, financial officer Liesl DeVary said at the board meeting. That includes fees for municipal waste, U.S. Navy waste, construction and demolition debris and other materials.

Other income comes from programs for the disposal of household hazardous waste and tires, as well as landfill gas royalties and interest earnings.

DeVary also proposed using a projected $16-million surplus from the current fiscal year to pay off debt and make early contributions to the landfill closure fund.

DeVary said the surplus resulted from the early payment of other loans, which saved interest dollars. She recommended paying about $9.48 million in debt early and transferring the rest of the surplus — about $6.5 million — to the landfill closure fund, eliminating the need to fund it in future years.

With the move, the authority would have about $36 million in debt left. That’s a stark contrast to three years ago, when the debt was about $250 million and the authority did not have enough cash to survive for 60 days.

The budget also includes a loss of 4.5 full-time or full-time equivalent positions, DeVary said. The positions were eliminated throughout the current fiscal year, she said.

The board did not discuss the budget much this month, deferring its deliberations until next month’s meeting on March 28. A public hearing on the tipping fee change is scheduled for April 25, and that will be the first opportunity the board has to adopt the budget.