The misunderstanding has always been there but its ugly head has reappeared in the last week or so.  As city leaders try to add another garbage-related fee to taxpayers in Superior, many in Duluth wonder what the fuss is all about. Social Media lit up with Duluthians spouting off that Superior residents should "join the rest of civilization" and be charged for their garbage collection "like they are".  A few of the television stations reported incorrectly that Superior residents have "historically not paid for garbage".  Even the Mayor of Superior has been quoted in the news saying that Superior is "unique" in that they "don't pay for garbage like the rest of the country".

The problem is that these statements are incorrect.

Superior residents do pay for garbage collection and always have.  It's included as part of their property tax bill.  Superior's mill rate is significantly higher than Duluth's.  Superior officials have always dismissed debates about the calculation by pointing out that the tax includes the cost of garbage services.  In fact - if you look at the conflict through this lens, Superior residents pay dearly for their trash collection perhaps more than any similar community in the area.

Added to the fact that Superior has always paid for their garbage collection is the new "recycling fee" that was added to taxpayers in the fall of 2014.  The fee was added to municipal bills after the city unsuccessfully tried to instigate a garbage fee at that time. State of Wisconsin legislation prevents municipalities from adding new taxes so a recycling fee suddenly appeared - although residents were told that it was not tied to garbage services.

To summarize, the proposed "garbage fee" would be paid by residents in addition to the Recycling Fee and the inflated property taxes.

In addition to all of this, many Duluthians fail to realize that their garbage ends up in the Superior landfill and many have suggested that this is the reason why the trash site is filling up prematurely.   That lifespan of the Superior landfill is what is really at issue here;  it's set to be full within the next 5 to 10 years.  At that point it needs to be capped and annual regulatory fees will need to be paid for the next few decades.  A new landfill would be costly to build as well and city officials have questioned where those funds would come from.

What's the answer to the problem?  Budget management - but that's a topic for another day.

So as you can see the issue surrounding another garbage fee for Superior is not about having to pay for the service, it's how much they're paying for it.