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Countywide trash pickup considered

October 02, 2003|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Washington County Commissioner John C. Munson said a county-appointed board is discussing the possibility of establishing a countywide trash pickup system, which would eliminate the need for residents to buy annual permits to dump garbage at the main landfill and its satellite sites.

Munson, a member of the Solid Waste Advisory Commission, said Wednesday by phone that the permit system costs the county more money than it brings in.

While the revenue from permits at the Forty West Landfill is self-supporting, that's not the case at the four smaller trash drop-off sites throughout the county, Munson said.

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Going to a countywide trash pickup system might be more economical to the county, Munson said.

"The main dump is subsidizing all the satellite dumps," Munson said. "If they do it the other way, it would be more fair to everybody."

Solid Waste Director Robert Davenport said Wednesday that a countywide system was just one idea of many that the Solid Waste Advisory Commission spoke about at a recent meeting.

Munson said the idea was worth pursuing.

"I think it's a good idea," Munson said. "Everybody would have access to trash pickup by the county."

The county has projected a deficit of about $264,000 for the current fiscal year's permit program, according to a recent report by the Finance and Budget Department. Approximately 8,370 permits have been sold for the year.

That report recommends raising annual permit rates from $75 to $115 for seniors, from $105 to $135 for non-seniors or to a rate of $130 for both seniors and all other users to make up for the shortfall.

The permit system has not been self-supporting because residents have been sharing permits, according to the report.

Munson said that under a countywide trash pickup system, the county would be broken down into four districts, and the commissioners would bid those districts to trash haulers.

For example, he said, residents could pay a base fee of $11 a month and then purchase county-issued garbage bags to use for curbside pickup.

Residents would have the choice of using the hauling service or continue taking their garbage to the landfill and satellite sites, he said.

If residents chose to haul their own trash to the landfill, they would be charged on a per-use cash basis, Munson said.

"There would be no more permits at the dump because they aren't paying for themselves," he said.

Munson said a countywide pickup would include areas that already have their own trash service. He said county officials would have to ask municipalities in the county to agree to such a service.

Munson said the countywide pickup idea was modeled after the program in Frederick County, Md.

"I don't see it happening right now because of the fact that we're such a rural society," Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said.

Wivell said some the county's roads may be too small to accommodate a trash hauling service.

He also said the current permit system would cost less or about the same price as a countywide hauling program.

"I just don't see it as something that's going to happen in the near future," Wivell said.

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