Published: Jun 01, 2011 02:00 AM
Modified: May 27, 2011 11:21 PM
CHAPEL HILL - Starting in July, it's going to be more expensive to dump garbage in Orange County.
The Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a $5 increase in the tipping fee at the county landfill on Eubanks Road last week.
The commissioners rejected a compromise proposal from Chapel Hill and Carrboro's governing boards to increase the fee to $2.
The county currently charges $52 per ton to dump trash.
The new charge will take effect July 1, and will rise an additional $2 each year until the landfill closes. The money will be used to establish a remediation fund for infrastructure improvements in the Rogers Road neighborhood.
Last month, the commissioners promised the landfill neighbors they would connect the community to sewer and water lines and mitigate any property damage the landfill has caused. The board also committed to closing the landfill by 2016.
The surcharge, with its annual increases, will bring in $1.8 million in five years. A one-time $750,000 contribution from the county's Solid Waste Fund will also be added to the remediation fund, bringing the total to $2.55 million.
Chapel Hill and Carrboro's boards both passed resolutions last week asking the commissioners to consider the reduced surcharge, but the commissioners rejected the request.
A lower fee would not bring in enough money to make the neighborhood improvements before the landfill closes, said commissioners Chairwoman Bernadette Pelissier.
"I think if we only did $2, we're backing off our commitment we made to the Rogers Road community," Pelissier said. "We would not have had sufficient money to do the remediation that needs to be done."
The county decided to raise the tipping fee after both Chapel Hill and Carrboro managers had prepared their budget proposals for the coming fiscal year. Both towns will have to find more money to pay the surcharge.
The increase will cost Chapel Hill $62,000, Town Manager Roger Stancil said.
His recommended budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year cuts services and is 4 percent below the current year, he said. The town has little time to find more money, and town staff is looking for more places to cut, he said. Layoffs or a tax increase are not likely to offset the fee, he said.
"Governing bodies, their actions affect each other and [when they] do things without talking, it's just unfortunate because we can do better than that," he said. "I thought the ... [counter]offer was a reasonable offer and we could increase it more next year. And the $750,00 in fund balance reserved is mostly money we've already paid in tipping fees. It seemed like a reasonable offer to get things moving, but apparently was not satisfying."
Pelissier acknowledged that the timing of the fee increase puts pressure on the towns, but said the county warned the municipalities earlier this spring that an increase could be coming.
"The timing is unfortunate from the perspective of the towns; I certainly agree on that," she said. "But this is the only way we can develop the sufficient funds in an equitable manner. I don't think anyone disagrees that the tipping fee is not the way to go ...[but] it would have been better to take action earlier."