Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

One man’s trash is another man’s ballfield funding

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Or not, in the case of East Wenatchee, Wash. Until I read this story in the Wenatchee World, I had no idea how much some municipalties relied on our garbage to fund their youth sports. It makes me feel less guilty for the times I didn’t throw my pop can in the recycle bin.

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This is a) a landfill, b) an environmental catastrophe or c) how we’re going to pay for that new indoor softball complex.

From the World:

Waste Management Central Washington won’t help fund a new youth sports complex through a host fee agreement, reversing a position taken by the company’s former director.

Mayor Steve Lacy said in an e-mail that former director Ted Woodard, who was laid off in January, “was the city’s main advocate in having Waste Management enter into a host fee agreement with the city that would provide about $300,000 a year to promote activities for the youth of the community.”

The e-mail said the city would have received from 85 cents to $1 for each ton of solid waste that went across the scales at Waste Management’s recently expanded landfill.

Lacy had said in a March 2008 blog post, “Waste Management is willing to do this as a way to give back to the community as a result of the community allowing it to expand its landfill (by 92.5 acres in 2008).”

Lacy told the City Council Tuesday evening that he’d met on Jan. 29 with the new director, Dave Lowe, who also serves as director of Waste Management’s Spokane operation, to discuss the agreement.

Lacy said Lowe and other Waste Management key personnel out of Spokane were unaware of the agreement and wanted to see the proposed contract.

“I sent them a copy and later received a letter from their municipal relations manager saying they weren’t interested in pursuing the host fee agreement,” Lacy said.

Ken Gimpel, Waste Management’s municipal relations manager, told The World that Waste Management currently has a host fee agreement with Douglas County because the county is actually the host community. …

[A proposed] multipurpose sports complex, originally anticipated to cost between $10 million and $11 million, is not off the table, said Lacy. He said due to the economic downturn, the project will probably be built in phases.

By the way, from what I can gather through googling, host fees came into vogue in the 1990s as private companies tried to find ways to bribe, er, give an incentive to communities to let them build or expand landfills. (They get the host fees from collecting tipping fees from the municpalities that use the landfill, a tipping fee being what you pay to dump your garbage.) As this release from the Virginia Waste Industries Association brags, a landfill can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in host fees, on top of whatever taxes the company pays, that municipalities can use for whatever they want, including funding for their parks departments. All you have to do is agree to have smelly garbage trucks running through your community day and night and hope the landfill liner doesn’t fail and leech toxins into the ground water.

So if you support youth sports, don’t recycle.

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