Missouri is trying to reinstate an expired waste tire fee to fund the state's efforts in scrap tire cleanup and management.
The fee-50 cents per tire sold in Missouri-lapsed Jan. 1 after the Missouri Assembly failed in its 2003 session to extend it. It had been in place since 1990.
About $2.3 million to $2.4 million remains in the fund, and that plus the cleanup contracts the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has in place will carry the program through June, according to Dan Fester, former DNR waste tire unit chief. But the fund has no source of income other than the fee.
Without it, he said, ``that will be the end of our cleanups-and not just the cleanups, but the entire program.''
The waste tire fund's 14-year history has been a successful one, according to a DNR fact sheet dated November. During that time, the department collected and recycled or disposed of more than 12 million tires, and allowed the proper management of the estimated 5 million tires generated in Missouri every year.
Through the fund, the DNR also reimbursed non-profit organizations for their scrap tire cleanup efforts, and gave 259 grants worth $1.3 million to communities to install recycled rubber playground surfaces, the fact sheet stated.
Missouri faces tough times with scrap tires if the fee isn't reauthorized, according to the DNR. There are 2.9 million known stockpiled scrap tires in the state, and perhaps 1 million more still unaccounted for, it said.
The DNR also funded a program last year to curb West Nile virus, which is spread through mosquitoes that can breed in scrap tires filled with stagnant water. That program ended with the fee's expiration.
In 2002, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services counted 168 cases of the virus in humans, seven of which were fatal.
The Missouri Assembly's Web site listed eight bills to re-establish the waste tire fee as of Jan. 20, but a spokeswoman for the DNR said there are 10-including two written by the department itself.
Depending on their language, the bills would extend the fee until anywhere from 2005 to 2014, and some contain provisions giving preference to Missouri contractors to perform scrap tire cleanups in the state.
Although the DNR is sponsoring two of the bills, ``we're following each one very closely,'' the spokeswoman said. ``We just want to make sure that the fee is extended.''