(April 11, 2014) Worcester County property owners and residents who want to take their trash to either of the county’s homeowners convenience stations, formerly known as transfer stations, could be forking over more money for permits next year or they could pay for each bag of trash.
Although the Worcester County Web site states that the “Transfer Stations are for homeowners only (in bold print) with proper permit,” Worcester County residential property owners, regardless of whether it is their primary or secondary residence, and residents who do not own their residences may purchase those permits, Kim Moses, the county’s public information officer confirmed Wednesday. Citizens may verify residency or ownership through property tax bills, utility bills or other similar bills.
During Tuesday’s budget work session, the Worcester County Commissioners discussed the possibility of increasing the cost of the annual homeowner permit sticker from $60 for the first sticker in the household to $100. They did not discuss increasing the current fee of $15 for the household’s second sticker or $60 for each additional sticker within the same household.
They did discuss, however, instituting a new and different fee of $1 per 33-gallon bag of household solid waste.
“Pay as you throw is a more equitable system,” Public Works Director John Tustin told the commissioners.
With the current homeowner permit system, homeowners with permits could take their neighbor’s trash along with their own when they go to one of the convenience stations, which
are located in Berlin, Snow Hill and Pocomoke. An additional homeowner permit area is at the central landfill in Newark.
Senior citizens might have only two bags of trash to take each week, but a person like himself might have 10 or 12 bags to take, said Harold Higgins, the county’s chief administrative officer.
“They’re trying to address the loss of monies,” Higgins said. “Pay as you throw seems to work in other counties.”
When Ocean City started sending its solid waste to Pennsylvania instead of to the county landfill few years ago, the county lost money and will continue to have a deficit in that department.
“When Ocean City pulled out, then we starting seeing a reduction in dollars at the landfill,” Tustin said.
Both Wicomico and Somerset counties also have deficits in solid waste revenues. Like Worcester, Wicomico has an enterprise fund, but Somerset uses its general fund for solid waste expenses.
Delaware has used the fee per bag system for 10 years and it “seems to be working,” Commissioner Virgil Shockley said.
Commercial solid waste haulers pay $70 per ton at the central landfill and a majority of the trash picked up by those haulers in Worcester goes to that landfill, Tustin said. If homeowners do not want to pay a higher rate from the permit fee and if they also do not want to pay $1 per bag, they could hire a waste hauler, he said.
Tustin’s requested budget for fiscal year 2015 for the Solid Waste Division of the Public Works Department is $5.26 million, a slight increase of $17,965 over the $5.25 million budget for the current fiscal year. Thirty-nine people work in that department.
The commissioners will hold additional budget work sessions Tuesday, May 13, and Wednesday, May 21, and if needed, Tuesday, May 27. They will adopt the general fund operating budget June 3.