Trash Talk: Commissioners Plans For Solid Waste

Vice Chairman Chad Stewart and Commissioner Tony Braswell are spearheading efforts to reform the solid waste decal program in Johnston County. Commissioners are considering four options, including three that eliminate the yearly decal fee. Photos

On average, each person produces 4.4 pounds of trash per day.  Depending on where you live, trash collection and disposal varies.

Two Johnston County Commissioners are pushing for a change in the trash decal program currently in place.  Vice Chairman Chad Stewart and Commissioner Tony Braswell hope to change the current policy to reduce littering and make trash disposal easier for residents in unincorporated areas, while keeping the costs down.

Currently, Johnston County residents can buy a $100 trash decal and use it to dispose of garbage at any of the 12 solid waste convenience sites.  The decals are good for one year.  County residents also have the option of contracting with a private company to pick up their garbage. Nine of the 11 municipalities in Johnston County provide solid waste collections, while two do not.

During a work session held earlier this year, commissioners were presented with four options on the decal program from Rick Proctor the Johnston County Director of Solid Waste Services.

  • Stay with the current decal program and increase decals fees up to $150 per year
  • Eliminate the decals and add $2.3 million each year to the General Fund to cover operating costs of the convenience sites
  • Eliminate the decals and add a convenience fee to all homes (outside town limits) of $36 per year per residence
  • Eliminate the decals and add a convenience fee to all homes (outside town limits) of $20 per year per residence for trash and a $12 per year recycling fee ($32 total)”Back in our work session we discussed changing the way we do our decal trash system.  I’m looking forward to moving that discussion forward,” Commissioner Braswell said during a June 17th board meeting.”I would agree with you. I reviewed the four options that Rick (Proctor) and his team have put together, and I’m ready to move forward,” Chairman Ted Godwin replied.

” I have to agree with both of you all,” Vice Chairman Stewart said. “Out of the four options the one that I like the most I’m sure the full board is not going to support but I feel, of the four options, we can get support from the board to get it through. I just want to eliminate decals. As a commissioner for 6 years I’ve heard more discussion about (decals) than anything else.”

“I look forward to the discussion,” Commissioner Jeff Carver responded.

Commissioners Braswell and Stewart prefer the option which costs the least, $32 per household.

“A wise man once told me where you stand depends on where you sit. This truly applies in this county because of the balance between the decals, towns pickup of trash, and commercial pickup throughout the county,” Braswell told JoCoReport. “Citizens complain to me decals can only be used for one vehicle, sometimes lines are long at some sites, people abuse the system by operating trash pickup service, and it is a reason the county roadways are littered with trash.

“I personally believe it could reduce littering but there is not any comparison without the decal program and in today’s environment some people just don’t think any rules or law applies to them. All I can say is the litter along our roadways is unbecoming of this great County and we need to figure out a way different from what we now have in place,” Commissioner Braswell said.

“Recycling creates a $400,000 loss and subsidized by the general fund and there is almost a $500,000 loss to the landfill operation for the decal program. I think we need to move away from the decal program, create a service and price that is satisfactory with all, a system where everyone pays its fair share for recycling, and the entire trash system be financially sound,” Braswell said.

Commissioner Stewart added, “I think folks would prefer not to have to deal with purchasing and keeping up with a decal every year.  We certainly hope littering would be reduced, but unfortunately, there are always going to be folks that are going to litter no matter what, and that’s a shame.

If Commissioners Braswell and Stewart can get their fellow board members to agree to eliminate the decals to use the convenience sites, all 12 sites would likely see a significant increase in traffic and trash collection.

Stewart said that may require extended hours of operations. “I think locations and times of operations can be reviewed.”

Braswell agreed but said, “…Before we can have a discussion on expansions or adding new sites, we’ve got to address the current financial process,”

County Manager Rick Hester believes the full board will begin discussing the trash decal options soon.  “II think the Board will discuss the solid waste decal program this calendar year (2019). We look forward to working with the Board on this. If the Board eventually decides to eliminate the decal program, staff would propose plenty of lead time for a start date so the 12 sites could be adequately prepared for more traffic, etc.”

County Fees Comparison
How much do citizens pay for trash collection in surrounding counties.  Its varies widely:

County                                   Annual Fee
Franklin                                  $85.
Harnett                                   $70.
Chatham                                $125 or $91 with private hauler
Greene                                   $84 or $42 with private hauler
Wake                                      $20 recycling fee
Wilson                                    $0.0325 per $100 tax valuation and $35
Wayne                                    $45
Nash                                       $125

Municipal Costs
Residents who live in the city limits in Johnston County – with the exception of Archer Lodge and Wilson’s Mills – are provided trash, yard waste and recycling services by their town government. Those costs also vary:

Town                                      Monthly Cost
Archer Lodge                         None (no city collection)
Benson                                   $24.55 Month ($294.60 Year)
Clayton                                   $18.07 Month (216.84 Year)
Four Oaks                              $26.00 Month ($312.00 Year)
Kenly                                      $19.44 Month ($233.28 Year)
Micro                                       $20.00 Month ($240.00 Year)
Pine Level                              $22.50 Month ($270.00 Year)
Princeton                                $24.00 Month ($288.00 Year)
Selma                                     $25.00 Month ($300.00 Year)
Smithfield                               $26.24 Month ($314.88 Year)
Wilson’s Mills                         None (no city collection)

Johnston County budgeted $8.26 million last year to operate the Solid Waste Division.

The County sold 12,645 decals last year and received 15,468 tons of household waste at the convenience sites from 516,140 total customers.

All the trash collected in Johnston County is hauled to the County Landfill Disposal Facility off Highway 210 near Smithfield.  Currently the landfill receives an average of 320 tons per day of solid waste and 165 tons per day of construction and demolition (C&D) debris. The Landfill charges a disposal fee of $37 per ton for solid waste, $30 per ton for C&D, and $18 per ton for vegetative and wood debris.

At the current waste flow, the life of the landfill site is expected to last another 80 years.