(June 20, 2014) Worcester County will begin a pilot program Jan. 1, 2015 for people to dispose of their trash on a “pay as you throw” system as part of a plan for its Solid Waste Division to lose less money.
“The only thing we’re going to do today is put a Band-Aid on it,” said Bud Church, president of the Worcester County Commissioners said Tuesday, of that new program and higher fees for home owners’ permits.
Homeowners selecting that option would pay $1 per bag, of up to the 33-gallon size, to dispose of their solid waste. The “pay as you throw” fees would be sold on a punch card in $10 increments at the Treasurer’s Office, Cape Isle of Wight office, the central landfill and through the mail. People would be responsible for supplying the 33-gallon trash bags themselves. The bags would be accepted at the convenience centers in Berlin, Snow Hill and Pocomoke and at the homeowner permit area at the central landfill.
Homeowners may also dispose of their solid waste at the convenience stations or the central landfill by purchasing stickers at a cost of $100 for two. A third sticker would be an additional $100. The current rates are $60 for the first sticker, $15 for the second sticker and $60 for each additional sticker within the same household. The stickers are for the calendar year.
Approximately 4,900 homeowner permit stickers were sold in 2013. Approximately 1,100 or 22.5 percent of the homeowners purchased a second sticker and approximately 250 or 5 percent purchased a third sticker.
Diana Purnell, a candidate for the seat held by the retiring Commissioner James Purnell, suggested during the June 3 public hearing that a $100 fee should cover the first two vehicles.
Church, who frequently disposes of his solid waste at the Berlin convenience center on Flower Street behind Stephen Decatur Middle School, said when he went there Sunday, seven vehicles, including five pickup trucks, were in line ahead of him. The pickup trucks were so full of solid waste that it took each truck five to 10 minutes to unload the bags of trash.
“No way all of those trucks came from one house,” Church said.
Some people try to avoid paying to dispose of their solid waste by adding their trash to someone else’s trash. And some people with pickup trucks will pick up their neighbor’s trash and take it to the landfill along with their own. It is conceivable that some of them could even be making money on the side by performing the pickup service for neighbors, but it means that the county makes less money.
If sticker prices remained the same, at $60 for the first, $15 for the second and $60 for the third, the county would need to transfer approximately $951,000 in reserve funds to make up for losses. With the approved prices of $100 for two stickers and $100 for an additional sticker, the county would have a shortfall of approximately $793,000 instead of $951,000.
“We can’t afford to continue to lose,” Church said.