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ENERGY BOARD OKS $7.8 MILLION BUDGET; TIPPING FEE STILL $50

The Davis County Energy Recovery board has approved a $7.8 million budget for 1991-92.

The budget calls for no increase in the tipping fee at the North Davis Area Landfill and the adjacent Energy Recovery Facility, also known as the "burn plant."Unfortunately, the budget calls for no decrease in the $50-per-ton tipping fee, one of the highest in the state.

Tipping fee revenues are expected to bring in about $5.8 million. Other revenues are steam sales to Hill Air Force Base, $1.5 million; interest, $500,000; and salvage proceeds, $36,000.

When the plant was built, the tipping fee was about $15 per ton. Officials had banked on the sale of steam, produced by burning garbage, to earn about $5 million per year, said district director LeGrand Bitter.

But the price of natural gas, which determines the price of the steam, has remained low, forcing the district to make up the lost revenue by raising the tipping fee.

The $50-per-ton fee has resulted in high garbage rates for the communities the district serves. For example, the garbage rate in Centerville, which is part of the district, is about $11 per month. In neighboring Bountiful, which has its own landfill and is not part of the district, residents pay only about $5 per month for garbage collection.

On the expenditure side of the budget, a $3.7 million interest payment on the $52 million bond that built the burn plant will eat the majority of the revenues. That figure may increase or decrease according to the bond market because the interest rate is variable. The district has been trying for more than a year to fix the interest rate at 7 percent, but market conditions have been unfavorable.

The other major expense is operating the burn plant, estimated at $1.8 million.

The district also has budgeted $250,000 for legal fees, a 250-percent increase over last year. The money will be spent in litigation between the district and the burn plant operator, Davis Energy Systems.

Payroll and employee benefits will increase by $61,000 to $301,000 to fund a 4.5 percent pay raise for the district's three full-time employees and to add a fourth administrative employee.