2009/04/06:The Capital Times:Put Clean Sweep back in the state budget - Buzz Davis

Put Clean Sweep back in the state budget
The Capital Times
Buzz Davis, Sally Kutz, Ron Ebert and Greg David  —  4/06/2009 6:23 am

Gov. Jim Doyle has proposed eliminating the popular Clean Sweep program, which safely disposes of old chemicals, pesticides and drugs. He believes this will "save" the state $1 million per year. We, and tens of thousands of other citizens, have used the Clean Sweep program in recent years. We want Clean Sweep put back into the budget.

It makes no sense to eliminate a program that safely disposes of hazardous chemicals and drugs BEFORE they cause serious problems to our environment and drinking water. Accidental spills, or illegal dumping, of chemicals can cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars for cleanup. Without a Clean Sweep program, hazardous chemicals would remain in sheds, basements, and barns, where only bad things can happen.

Clean Sweep, managed by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, is funded by a state tax called a "tipping fee." Tipping fees are paid by waste haulers for each ton of waste dumped into a landfill. In 2007, nearly 8 million tons of waste qualified for the state's $5.60/ton tipping fee. This fee generated approximately $44 million in state revenue.

Gov. Doyle's budget proposes nearly doubling the state tipping fee to $10/ton -- increasing state revenue to around $80 million annually. The Clean Sweep program currently provides $1 million in grants to local governments to help offset the costs of safe, legal disposal of hazardous chemicals and drugs. The annual cost of the Clean Sweep program comprises only 15 cents per ton or less of that tipping fee per year.

We think this tax of 15 cents per ton on landfill waste is a good deal for Wisconsin citizens. That 15 cents purchases us safer drinking water, a healthier environment, and a safer drug environment in our homes.

Let's do something green in the state budget. Let's prevent problems before they start. Let's put the $1 million for the Clean Sweep program back into the state budget to protect us, visitors to our state and our environment. Please contact your state senator or Assembly representative now.

This column was submitted by Buzz Davis, Stoughton, former Dane County Board member; Sally Kutz, Jefferson County; Ron Ebert, Jefferson County; and Greg David, Jefferson County Board member.