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Landfill use fees may rise

March 10, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Washington County residents who buy permits to use the Forty West Landfill may be paying $25 to $55 more a year to dispose of their garbage.

Kenneth H. Conway, chairman of the Washington County Solid Waste Advisory Committee, and Robert Davenport, solid waste director, asked the County Commissioners on Tuesday to consider raising fees for all permit users to $130.

Senior citizens, who currently pay $75 for an annual permit, would see their fee increase by $55 to $130 if the proposal were approved.

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All other users would pay $25 more, up from the current fee of $105 a year.

Conway said the fee increase would be temporary to help the Solid Waste Department's revenues break even with its expenses.

The Solid Waste Advisory Committee also recommended the county work on a long-term plan that would replace the permit system with countywide trash pickup service.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the commissioners would discuss the proposal. He said they were struggling over how to deal with the issue.

"We understood that it would be a jolt," Conway said. "It has to be paid for by someone."

In October 2003, Commissioner John C. Munson said the permits 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 dropoff sites throughout the county, he said.

Munson is a member of the Solid Waste Advisory Committee.

The county's Budget and Finance Department last year estimated that the permit program would have a deficit of about $264,000 for the current fiscal year.

The permits program has not been self-supporting because county residents have been sharing permits, according to that report.

Davenport said Tuesday the Solid Waste Department has sold 8,397 permits for this year.

Snook said he thought the county would lose about half of those permit holders if the fees were raised.

He said permit holders probably would begin paying to drop off their trash on a per-use basis, which is calculated based on weight.

Under a countywide trash pickup system, Munson said the county would be broken down into four sections, and those sections would be served by garbage haulers working under contract.

"We put a lot of hours into this," Munson said.

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