05/25/08 — Solid waste disposal fees going up in county soon

View Archive

Solid waste disposal fees going up in county soon

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 25, 2008 2:02 AM

A $7 increase in the solid waste tipping fee at the county landfill and a $20 increase in the fee charged county residents for use of convenience centers will be recommended in Wayne County's budget proposal for fiscal 2008-09.

The solid waste tipping fee would increase from $23 to $30 per ton and the convenience center fee from $40 to $60 annually.

"That is still cheap," Wayne County Manager Lee Smith said.

However, the $7 increase could be scaled back to $4.50 depending on state lawmakers.

That uncertainty has Smith lamenting the costs local governments might incur because of the state's indecisiveness.

Originally, the state had mandated a $2.50 solid waste disposal tax effective July 1. Now, however, state lawmakers have indicated they might hold off on the increase until Jan. 1.

According to the General Assembly's Web site, bills have been filed in both the House and Senate to delay the tax's effective date until January. Those bills have yet to be acted upon.

Smith said local governments will have their budgets completed before the state acts. As such, the $2.50 tax will have to be included in the local budget even though it is possible the state might delay implementing it until January.

That would mean implementing the increase locally, only to scale it back and then raise it again in January.

Not only is that too confusing, but costly as well since local governments would have to program the fees into their systems twice, Smith said.

If the state can't enact the tax by July 1, it would be simpler to wait until July 1, 2009, he said.

Smith said the two county fees have not been increased in about 14 years.

An average family generates about 1.2 tons of solid waste per year meaning that the increase in the tipping would cost a family an additional 70 cents per month.

The number of variables makes it more difficult to figure the cost for businesses, he said.

The fee increases are being driven by an approximately $4.5 million expansion at the landfill that will be needed in about four years. Smith noted that the landfill is supported by the fees the county charges.

"We need to build a reserve so that we can build it (expansion) and pay cash" he said. "You don't want to borrow money to build a landfill."

The county's growing population and soaring diesel fuel prices also are driving the need for the fee increase. Smith said the landfill trucks are having to make more trips per day because more people are being served. The large trucks and heavy equipment used at the landfill are all diesel powered.

Smith said he was estimating fuel costs based on $4.50-$4.75 per gallon.

The increase in the convenience center fee is based on the public wanting to keep all of the centers open, Smith said.

The fee is included on the tax bills for county residents. Any resident who uses a private company to dispose of their waste may call the county and the fee will be removed, Smith said.

Despite the increases Wayne County still has the lowest rates in eastern North Carolina, he said.