Owners upset at having to pay trash fee
By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 19, 2011 1:46 PM
An exemption to the county's landfill fee that was removed from the Wayne County budget this year had several mobile home owners complaining at Tuesday's meeting of the county Board of Commissioners.
In approving the budget in June, commissioners reduced the landfill fee that shows up on county tax bills from $60 to $45.
In the past, people who lived outside of the county's municipalities and who used a licensed hauler to carry off their garbage were exempted from the fee. But when the commissioners reduced the fee they also eliminated the exemption. That means the fee showed up on the tax bills for people who had previously been exempted.
Vernon Bartlett of the Seven Springs community said the fee was like being "double billed."
"Every time we turn around another bill is put on us for something," he said. "They come out, inspect our trailers, inspect our mobile home parks, send us a bill for this. Everything is a bill."
Bartlett said that fires at his mobile home park had decreased since he placed dumpsters where people can dump instead of burn trash.
"These people are not going to haul their trash off," he said. "If we don't take them by the hand and guide them through the system they are going to burn it in their backyard.
"I know that you give big businesses breaks. We are not big business. We are a small business trying to operate. You cut us out of more money and sooner or later we are going to have to pass it on. I have not made a profit on my property in five years."
Ann Hall of Mount Olive, owner of a mobile home park at Seven Springs, said that the $45 equals $1,755 on top of what she pays in taxes.
"Plus I have trash pickup," she said. "I have trash cans at each one of my mobile homes and that is around $4,800 a year. I have tried it both ways. When I started my mobile home park I let them carry it to the dumpster They will not do it. It will be up and down the roads, scattered. You have got a mess."
DeWayne Strickland of Seven Springs said the fee was like "double charging," while Pattie Daly of Goldsboro called it "double dipping."
"I don't appreciate being hit twice for dumping trash," she said. "I do not take things to the landfill. If I do, they weigh and you have to pay on the spot. It is not right to gig us every little way that you can for this fee and that fee.
"That is a tax any way that you look at. You can call it a fee if you want to."
The fee is not new, having been first adopted by the county 20 years ago when Wayne set up its current solid waste disposal system.
Smith said he had been questioned by some commissioners about the fee. He reminded the board that the fee reduction and elimination of the exemptions had been included in his budget message that he had read to commissioners at the time the budget was being considered.
Some people are upset because they haven't seen the fee before, Smith said.
"What the county has been doing, and this is not common, we have been exempting folks from the fee," Smith said "The thing that we have found is that a lot of folks, not all of them, a lot of them exempted use the landfill, they use the convenience centers.
"That being the case, all of the other people who use these sites are paying for use of these sites."
As of June 30, revenue collected from the fee totaled about $1.1 million.
"We reduced the fee so that it (revenue) would be the same -- it will be within probably about $5,000 to $10,000," he said. "That way all persons who use any service in Wayne County as it relates to solid waste will pay. Remember, solid waste is an enterprise. It is not funded by general fund taxes -- only the solid waste and tipping fees and monies when we resell recyclables and things like that.
"This was a recommendation (to eliminate the exemptions) back in March, April by the tax office. We were exempting, it varies from year to year, 1,700 to 1,800 individuals."
In prior years the county would get a list from licensed garbage haulers in the county exempting residents on the lists from the fee.
"So they would never see that cost," Smith said. "The fee was out there, but you exempted them for it."
The problem is that the county found out people who were exempted were still taking items to the landfill and convenience centers free, Smith said. That is not fair to other county residents, he said.
"Because remember, this year you are expanding the landfill, a 20-acre site, a $4 million site that you are installing," he said. "Part of this (fee) is to build the reserves that sustains it. The tipping fee doesn't cover everything. It is also the solid waste fee."
Smith said he fielded close to a dozen calls and some e-mails Monday about the fee. The two most detailed calls came from mobile home park owners, he said.
"Some understand it," Smith said. "Some don't. Some were upset. I understand it perfectly because some of them didn't even know that it was there because they have been exempted for so many years. Originally the exemptions just weren't there."