"Fee-free October" - a program tens of thousands of residents have enjoyed over the years - is a thing of the past at the Salt Lake Valley Landfill.
Salt Lake County residents who haul trash to the landfill this month are being assessed $3.50 per pickup truck, half the regular price of $7.Last year, the regular price was $5, and no fees were charged for pickup loads during October and April.
Romney Stewart, solid waste management director and landfill manager, said higher landfill costs make it impossible to continue the free service. Also, so many people were taking advantage of the no-fee months that it became an "operational hardship," he added.
One Saturday last year, for example, 3,000 private trucks and trailers showed up at the landfill, causing a massive traffic jam and interfering with regular municipal and commercial services.
The $3.50 fee could shift some of the congestion to other months as well as help cover increasing costs due to new federal environmental regulations, Stewart said.
"On the up side, we feel that $3.50 per truckload is not unreasonable. It's quite a bargain, considering the cost of landfill operations."
He said about 800 private truckloads were dumped at the landfill the first Saturday this month, "a slight drop-off from last year."
The landfill is located at 6030 W. 1300 South. Winter hours of operation effective this month are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sundays.
To encourage residents to cover their loads and prevent trash from falling, the landfill charges the full fee for uncovered loads.
Also, landfill operators are asking residents to take recyclable materials to neighborhood collection bins or directly to recycling companies. For information on recycling locations, call 974-6902.