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County may raise landfill fee

The Washington County Commissioners voted Tuesday to hold a public hearing over raising the rates

The Washington County Commissioners voted Tuesday to hold a public hearing over raising the rates

July 24, 2002|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Commissioners are considering raising discounted landfill rates for municipalities and users who dump at least 4,000 tons a year at the Forty West Landfill.

They voted 5-0 Tuesday to take the matter to a public hearing, but a date has not yet been set.

Hagerstown, Williamsport and Hancock would be affected by the possible increase, county Solid Waste Director Robert Davenport said.

High-volume dumpers and the municipalities would pay $36 a ton, up $3 from $33, he said. The fee hike might generate an additional $150,000 a year, he said.

The $36 fee would still be lower than the regular fee of $45. High-volume users and municipalities who send all of their garbage to the landfill qualify for the discounted rate.

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Davenport said the increase is necessary, in part, to make up for higher fees from haulers, in operation costs and employee wages and benefits.

"When you get to the bottom of the line, it all adds up," he said.

Hancock Town Manager Lou Close said Tuesday afternoon that the town would have to analyze the rates to see how the increase would affect the town. He said the town, which contracts with Peck's Refuse Disposal in McConnellsburg, Pa., budgets $45 per ton annually to use the landfill, even though it qualifies for and pays the discounted rate.

"We'll just have to look at the rates again as we go along," Close said.

Close said the town just raised trash rates a year ago and hopes it doesn't have to do so again.

"It's getting out of hand," Close said.

Hancock residents currently pay $20 a quarter or $80 a year for trash pickup, he said.

Hancock Mayor Daniel A. Murphy said it's too soon to tell how the possible county hike would affect the town, but that raising town rates as a result wouldn't be out of the question.

"I'm certainly a realist to know that solid waste dumping is becoming a real issue in our environment," Murphy said. "It's going to require us to raise our rates probably to people along the streets."

Murphy said the town might attend the public hearing looking for answers about the possible hike.

"I'm sure it will have some effect," Hancock Councilman Darwin Mills said. "Every time a rate is increased, it's a chain reaction."

The town of Boonsboro, because it only sends items such as brush and tree limbs to the landfill, doesn't qualify for the discounted rate. Town Manager Jake Jones said the town contracts with Waste Management of Martinsburg, W.Va., which dumps its trash in Martinsburg.

He said the contracts from Waste Management usually cost less than the hauling companies that dump at Forty West. He said under law the town must contract with the lowest bidder.

Jones said Boonsboro officials will attend the public hearing to protest paying the nondiscounted rate to dump its brush at the landfill.

"It's not fair to the citizens of the town," Jones said. "Why should we pay the top dollar? When does Boonsboro get the break from the county?"

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