Fee To Remain $65 In 2016, Increase To $100 In 2017 –
Eighteen people spoke to county commissioners during a public hearing Monday night to discuss how to solve the county’s trash problem.
The Commissioners Room was filled to capacity with a crowd of concerned citizens overflowing into the hallway for the 90-minute discussion.
For approximately 12 years commissioners have struggled on how to break even on the cost of garbage collection. The county operates 12 convenience sites that operate at an annual lost of about $1.2 million, according to County Manager Rick Hester.
Commissioners previously discussed several options including raising the decal fee to use the sites from the current price of $65, charging each property owner a fee of $51-$53 on their tax bill, and even an annual recycling fee of $5 for residents who live in the city limits of the 9 towns that provide their own garage collection.
Citizens were quick to give their own opinions. C.L. House who lives on Davis Mill Road near Selma suggested a tax be applied to vehicles not property owners. Teeny Bizzell of Bizzell Grove Church Road, Princeton suggested a $5 or $10 fee on each license plate for county residents.
Bruce Nichols of Little Creek Church Road, Clayton was against any additional burden on property owners. He suggested a “consumption fee” on groceries with a penny added to every sale to help pay for garbage. He likened the fee to a disposal tax paid on appliances when they are purchased.
Nancy Medlin, Clayton’s Deputy Town Manager, said the Town of Clayton was opposed to any assessment on the tax bill. Clayton contracts with Waste Management to collect and haul their garage, a fee passed on to Clayton residents each month. Last year 4,500 tons of garbage was hauled from Clayton to the landfill.
After the public hearing ended, Commissioner Ted Godwin said he felt garbage collection was a government-related function and should be paid for like education, fire and EMS service. Godwin wanted the cost to be paid for by property owners, even though he admitted its not going to be fair to everybody. Using an analogy, Godwin said while he doesn’t have any children in Johnston County Schools, 55 cents of every tax dollar is spent in the county on education.
Commissioner Chad Stewart said, “A tax bill can’t be the goose that lays the golden egg every time.”
Commissioner Allen Mims compared trash service to water and sewer services provided by the county. Mims said while county water service runs through the county, and sewer service through many areas, but not everyone is connected. Mims said water well and septic tank owners should not be subject to a fee to subsidize county water and sewer services and neither should property owners be subject to a fee to subsidize county convenience sites.
Mims suggested going with a punch card rather than a yearly decal fee to prevent abuse at the convenience sites.
Commissioner Jeff Carver made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Cookie Pope to keep the decal fee at $65 for the 2015-16 fiscal year, increase the fee to $100 for the 2016-17 fiscal year, and by the start of the 2017-18 fiscal year on July 1, 2017 the county have a plan to permanent fix the problem.
The motion passed 6-1 with Commissioner Ted Godwin casting the only dissenting vote.