Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) The City of Missoula on Wednesday moved one step closer to giving Public Works the authority to designate price changes for the products it sells at its compost facility off Reserve Street.

At a later date, City Council may also increase the fee it charges customers who bring yard waste and other materials to the site for composting.

The city acquired EKO compost nearly a decade ago. While it changed the operation's name to Garden City Compost, it never adjusted the fees.

“We haven't raised these prices since we acquired the compost facility from EKO,” said Logan McInnis with Public Works. “These prices have been in place for at least 10 years, as I understand it.”

McInnis said that while the city's prices have stayed flat, operational costs and the price of soil amendments used as a product additive have risen.

He said the city wants to fully offset its operating costs with the revenue it brings in from customers. If the proposal passes next week, it would give the director of Public Works the authority to set pricing for current and future products.

A pile of food waste sits in front of a much larger pile of woody debris. Each week, Garden City Compost receives a semi-truck load of wasted food from every Walmart in the state. Food waste is generally dealt with first to keep the smell down and deter scavengers from the site. (Kevin Morirarty/Missoula Current)
A pile of food waste sits in front of a much larger pile of woody debris. Each week, Garden City Compost receives a semi-truck load of wasted food from every Walmart in the state. Food waste is generally dealt with first to keep the smell down and deter scavengers from the site. (Kevin Morirarty/Missoula Current file)
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“We're trying to develop new markets,” McInnis said. “They'd like a little flexibility to give a discount at bulk price to develop a new market. If the price is just fixed by City Council, they don't have the ability to do that.”

While the city currently charges $26 per cubic yard for compost, it's looking to raise that price to $30. He said the city isn't considering an increase for enriched topsoil, though it could consider an increase in tipping charges.

Tipping charges represent the fee a customer is charged when bringing materials to the site such as leaves, tree limbs, grass clippings and other solid waste. Some members of the public have suggested that an increased tipping fee could serve as a deterrent in bringing waste to the facility.

“We are planning to bring that to council for approval of that fee,” McInnis said.

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