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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


No solution on Solid Waste Enterprise Fund Shortfall

SNOW HILL — While there is no question that the current situation at transfer stations around the county are logistically and economically untenable, the Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday elected to put the problem on the back burner and take it up again in the fall.

During the budget hearings over the last several months, Enterprise Fund Manager Jennifer Savage told the commissioners that the department could no longer afford to run the program the way it has been.

The problem, as she put it, was that the tipping fees professional collection companies pay are already subsidizing the county’s cost to operate the transfer stations. Those stations are local repositories for refuse to be taken to the central landfill.

Continuing to raise the tipping fees to cover the transfer stations was not only considered unjust, but the tipping fees are paid by municipalities and private collection companies. When the fees go up, they tend to be passed along to the county taxpayers in the form of higher collection fees.

Another issue was that the number of commercial landscaping company owners are gaming the system by paying a lower rate to use the dump as if they are only bringing the waste from their own homes to the transfer stations.

In other cases, two households would share the cost of the dump stickers burdening the county transfer stations with the refuse of two homes while only paying enough to accommodate the subsidized cost of one.

Savage’s initial plan would have raised the cost of dump stickers to $100 for up to two stickers per residence. She suggested in lieu of that the transfer stations could reduce hours. The commissioners opposed both notions, saying they wanted the same level of service for the same cost.

Since they were unable to settle the matter, they decided to work it out over the course of the remaining budget sessions, which they were unable to do.

At this week’s meeting, the commissioners passed the solid waste enterprise budget without making any progress on how to account for the fact that the service cost more than they felt people were willing to spend.

Commissioner Bud Church reiterated his opinion that if the dump stickers cost too much, the already rampant illegal dumping on the county roads would increase, causing a greater strain on the roads department budget.

As it stands, the budget will include dump sticker fees of $60 for the first sticker and $15 for a second sticker. Residence would be verified at each trip to the dump. 

The commissioners put the questions of enforcement and possible additional costs for dumping yard waste at the transfer stations off until the fall. At that time, they will not only address the need to bring service, cost and revenue in line with one another but also will consider a proposal that either would limit the number of trips a person could make to dispose of yard waste or charge for the additional trips.

Yard waste is accepted at the central landfill in Newark but the commissioners believe residents living in the south and the north of the county would find the requirement to drive there to dump for free unreasonable.