New Fees, Increased Monitoring for Sturgeon Bay Compost Site

For decades, City residents have been able to take their leaf, lawn, garden and brush waste to the city’s yard-waste collection site on Division Road at any time of the day or night.

But for several years now, the city has struggled to manage rising operational costs and illegal dumping, including use by nonresidents. It’s not an uncommon struggle. Baileys Harbor was forced to close its Green Site earlier this year because of an “astronomical amount of illegal dumping,” according to the town’s clerk, Haley Adams.

In Sturgeon Bay, the Municipal Services Department converts lawn, leaf and woody debris into 12,000 cubic yards of compost and 24,000 cubic yards of wood chips.

To address the continued need for handling yard waste – it’s been illegal since 1993 to dispose of yard waste in solid-waste facilities – many communities such as Sturgeon Bay have formalized their yard-waste operations using standards the state adopted in 2012 for operating a compost site. Annually, this program has cost city taxpayers about $55,000.

That will change in 2021. 

The Common Council approved changes to its compost and yard-waste program in 2019 that will go into effect in January 2021. The city’s General Fund will no longer pay for the project, nor will it receive property-tax support. All costs associated with operating the yard-waste and compost program will be part of the city’s Compost Fund, paid for by a monthly fee of $2 on each utility bill.

These changes were made in part due to the rising cost of operations, levy-limit constraints and a need for capital improvements such as fencing and access gates to control illegal dumping. 

“City residents bear unnecessary costs caused by illegally dumped materials such as treated lumber, lumber with nails, landscaping timbers, construction debris, concrete and plastic,” said City Administrator Josh VanLieshout. 

On top of the disposal fees to get rid of the illegally dumped material, it takes considerable labor to separate garbage from yard waste and brush piles, said city Municipal Services Director Mike Barker.

“The junk and other debris are problematic because if not removed, [they] make an unusable product and can damage expensive shredding equipment,” Barker said. 

For 2021, the fees – which will cover the cost of monitoring access and materials taken to the site – will be $2 per month added to utility bills for Sturgeon Bay residents. For Town of Sturgeon Bay and Sevastopol residents, the cost will be $100 per year for a permit, available at the city’s Municipal Services Office. For contractors and workers for hire, the permit cost will be $500 per year. 

Users will still be able to dispose of lawn waste, tree branches, leaves and water weeds, and they may also take wood mulch and leaf compost for personal use. Those who want compost and wood mulch for commercial or agricultural purposes should contact the city’s Municipal Services Office.

To limit illegal dumping, access to the site will be restricted to certain hours, which may change as customer demand dictates. 

“The objective is to continue to provide the service in a way that is sustainable and provide a beneficial product to the residents of the city at the lowest cost possible,” Barker said.

Poststorm hours will be posted on the city’s website and social media page. These are the regular hours: 

• March 15 – May 14, and Nov. 1 – Dec. 15, open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 7 am – 3 pm 

• May 15 – Oct. 31, open Monday – Friday, 8 am – 4:30 pm

• Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, open 8 am – 4 pm; and Sundays, open 8 am – 2 pm

• The facility will be closed Dec. 16 – March 14.

Related Organizations