Officials: Landfill fee hike to have effect on residents

July 31, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Washington Township residents may see small increases in the cost of dumping their garbage at the township's transfer station next year, but the hike will go a long way toward getting Pennsylvania out of a $1.2 billion shortfall, state Rep. Patrick Fleagle said Tuesday.

Fleagle, R-Waynesboro, said the bill, which took effect July 8, raises tipping fees charged at landfills across the state by $4 per ton.

The landfill hike is expected to generate about $92 million, $50 million of which will go the state's Growing Greener environmental programs and $42 million to the general fund. The legislature also raised the tax on cigarettes by 69 cents a pack to pay for the shortfall, Fleagle said.


Large commercial refuse haulers like Waste Management and businesses that dump by the ton will be most affected by the hike, he said.

Also affected will be the municipality of Washington Township, Township Administrator Michael A. Christopher said Tuesday.

The township sends its refuse to the EISPA Blue Ridge Landfill in Scotland, Pa., under a two-year contract that ends Dec. 31, 2003.

Christopher said it costs the township about $20,000 a year in tipping fees to dump about 5,000 tons per year in the landfill. The new surcharge will raise the township's cost by 12 percent.

The extra cost is not included in the current year's budget, he said.

"This was unexpected," Christopher said. "We only learned of it at the end of June. We'll make do for the rest of the year but the supervisors will have to address the situation for next year's budget."

Christopher said about three-fourths of the transfer station's customers are individual residents who dump from 500 to 700 pounds per year in garbage bags at a cost of $1.75 a bag.

Businesses like roofing contractors and others who dump tons of construction debris will feel the pinch, he said.

The station is open to anyone willing to pay the fees, Christopher said. Many who use it come from nearby Adams County, Pa., and from Washington and Frederick counties in Maryland, he said.

The township raised its rates earlier this year to pay for new equipment at the transfer station.

Christopher sees the new $4 surcharge as an unfair tax.

"Everybody has to get rid of garbage," Christopher said. "I'm not going to criticize the legislature for trying to balance the state's budget, but raising the fees on garbage disposal isn't the way to do it. It's a regressive tax."

Fleagle said he sees the increase as a way to discourage commercial haulers from bringing out-of-state garbage to Pennsylvania. He said more than half of all the refuse dumped in Pennsylvania landfills comes from out of state.

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