Commissioners vote to introduce $15 yard waste add-on to landfill permits

June 14, 2011|By HEATHER KEELS |

WASHINGTON COUNTY — The Washington County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to introduce an optional $15 add-on to landfill permits that will cover yard waste disposal for a year without the need to cross the landfill’s scales.

The move was a reaction to negative feedback after the county decided that regular landfill permits will no longer cover yard waste starting July 1. That change would have forced all yard waste to go across the scales, where it would cost $63 a ton, with a $10 minimum fee.

After landfill users complained the change would lead to long lines at the scale and would be too expensive for users disposing of only a bag or two of grass clippings, County Administrator Gregory B. Murray suggested the $15 permit add-on as an optional alternative.

Users who buy a $130 permit or a $95 senior permit will have the option to pay an additional $15 for a different-colored sticker that will authorize yard waste disposal, Murray said.

About 20 people attended a public hearing on the proposed change Tuesday morning, and nine of them testified during the hearing. Their comments were mixed, with three people seemingly supportive of the $15 add-on, four people opposed to it and two people focusing on landfill issues unrelated to yard waste.

Some who opposed the change said expecting users to pay an extra $15 for a service that has previously been included in their landfill permit was too much to ask.

“We’re in a recession where jobs are lost,” said Dinah Palladino, who lives near Maugansville. “People just don’t have the money anymore.”

David Earley, who lives west of Hagerstown, said his yard waste disposal needs are limited to 28 lawn mowings per year, at two bags of cut grass per mowing. By his calculation, it should cost about $9 to dispose of the waste.

“I think $15 is just a little bit too high for the average yard,” he said.

Earley also questioned why the county needs to charge to accept yard waste when it turns around and sells that material as mulch and compost.

“You’re charging a supplier,” he said.

The county’s prices for mulch and compost as of July 1 will be $30 a ton and $20 a ton, respectively.

Murray said mulch and compost sales alone are not enough to fund the necessary replacements for the $1.25 million worth of equipment used in mulching and processing yard waste.

“We’re not making a profit,” Murray said. “We’re actually operating at a loss.”

Michael Nye, who lives off Mount Aetna Road, said after listening to Murray’s reasoning that he supported the idea of the $15 permit add-on.

“Fifteen dollars additional for me to get rid of my yard waste is better than more than that, or going across the scale,” he said.

Nye suggested raising the price of all permits by $15 instead of offering it as an optional add-on.

The commissioners decided against raising the cost of all permits. At Commissioner William B. McKinley’s suggestion, they discussed the possibility of offering a $25 permit for yard waste alone, for users who do not buy a regular landfill permit, but decided to consider that option separately at a later time.

Murray said landfill users who have already paid to renew their landfill permits would be able to use those permits to dispose of yard waste until the county is ready to begin selling the $15 add-on.

The Herald-Mail Articles