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County addressing 'unintended consequences' of yard waste change

June 07, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS | heather.keels@herald-mail.com
  • Trash is dumped and covered at the 40 West landfill. After hearing from landfill users outraged over an upcoming requirement for all yard waste to cross the landfill scales, county officials are considering selling $15 yard waste disposal stickers that would allow users to bypass the scales.
Herald-Mail file photo

After hearing from landfill users outraged over an upcoming requirement for all yard waste to cross the landfill scales, county officials are considering selling $15 yard waste disposal stickers that would allow users to bypass the scales.

Currently, residential users who buy landfill permits do not have to weigh yard waste or pay separately for it. But as part of a set of landfill fee changes set to take effect July 1, regular permits will no longer cover yard waste disposal, County Administrator Gregory B. Murray said. That means all yard waste will have to cross the scales, where it will cost $63 a ton, with a $10 minimum scale fee, Murray said.

The change was intended to help cover the high cost of replacing and maintaining yard-waste processing equipment such as grinders and compactors, Murray said.

However, it might have the "unintended consequences" of forcing users with very small amounts of yard waste to pay the $10 minimum fee and of causing backups in the line for the scale house, he said.

"It wasn't intended to penalize people who have two bags of yard clippings and want to bring them to the landfill, and now have to go across the scale and pay a $10 minimum scale fee," he said.

As landfill permit renewal notices have gone out to permit holders, county officials have received complaints from many users upset about the change, Murray said.

Murray suggested that in addition to the standard $130-per-year residential landfill permit (which costs $95 for seniors and disabled veterans), the county could offer another version of the permit for $15 extra that would cover yard waste disposal for the year. The vehicle stickers for the different types of permits would be different colors, he said.

The Washington County Commissioners were supportive of the idea and agreed to hold a public hearing on the proposal at their June 14 meeting before voting on it.

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