Washington County is considering raising landfill fees, instituting a recycling fee and eliminating recycling drop-boxes from within the city of Hagerstown starting in July, county officials said Tuesday.
The proposed measures are an attempt to close a projected Department of Solid Waste budget shortfall and to promote self-sufficiency in a department in which the landfill-permit and recycling programs currently operate at a loss, Clifford J. Engle, the county's director of solid waste, told the Washington County Commissioners.
"Other than obviously the cost of services going up, we've also experienced, especially since 2006, a fairly dramatic decline in the amount of revenue-bearing waste coming into the landfill," Engle said.
The county depends on tipping fees to subsidize its landfill permit program and recycling program, and reduced tipping fee revenue is making it even more difficult to cover all the costs, he said.
To reduce the cost of the recycling program, Engle recommended removing recycling drop-boxes from within the city, which offers its own curbside recycling program, and moving the other drop-boxes inside municipal solid-waste facilities, where they can be monitored for proper use.
In addition, he suggested charging a recycling fee of between $8 and $13 a year per household outside of the municipalities to cover recycling program costs instead of forcing landfill users to subsidize those costs.
Proposed fee hikes included a $5-per-year increase for regular landfill permits, a $2-per-ton increase to the solid-waste tipping fee and a $2 increase to the minimum scale fee, among other increases.
The county would also reduce its transfer station hours to five days a week from the current six to eliminate the need for overtime and would reduce overtime hours for landfill employees, Engle said.
The recommendations are part of the county's proposed fiscal 2012 budget, which will go to a public hearing before returning to the commissioners for a vote. Both the hearing and the vote typically take place in May.