June 15 Trash Talk – Danville Register & Bee

Originally published in the Danville Register & Bee on June 15

In May, the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors voted to reinstate the household solid waste disposal availability fee at $120 a year. You’re probably wondering two things — why so much, and what is the county going to do with the money?

That $120 a year brings in just over $3 million out of the $4 million budget for solid waste operations. All of this money goes into an enterprise fund, which means the funds may only be used for solid waste operations.

On average, here is how each dollar of that fee will be spent:

» $26 goes to Operations.

» $34 goes to Collections.

» $51 goes to Capital Reserves/Investment.

» $9 goes to Debt Repayment.

The operations portion covers the salaries of the people who work at the landfill, as well as general operating expenses (fuel, electricity, equipment maintenance, etc.) of the landfill.

Collections is exactly what it sounds like — the cost of collecting the trash from the convenience centers and green box sites.

Capital Reserves/Investment covers buying new stuff — like land and equipment for new compactor sites, a new roll-off truck and a boom truck. It also covers saving for the necessary costs of closing the current landfill cell in about 10 years and opening a new one.

Debt service is paying back the debt that the county incurred for some equipment purchases, as well as the closing costs for the last cell.

We know that many households will need a few months to plan paying the $120 Solid Waste Disposal Availability Fee when it’s billed this fall. We’ve worked with Treasurer Vincent Shorter to ensure that multiple options are available. Beginning immediately, Shorter will allow citizens to make prepayments on their upcoming bills.

Additionally, to make paying this fee easier, that full $120 will not be marked past due until June 20, 2019. That means that everyone will have a full 12 months to pay the bill. Shorter will accept $10 a month payments, just like we pay for TV, water, gas and electricity.

There are a few county residents and businesses that own a parcel with three or more residential units — like an apartment complex or mobile home park. Our ordinance requires that all dwelling units pay the fee; however, these multi-unit parcels have an opportunity to secure private garbage collection, the same way other businesses in the county do, which exempts the multi-unit parcel from the fee.

Staff is also working to overhaul the experience residents have when they visit our collection sites by offering additional options for recycling and restricting contractors from dumping commercial debris in the residential collection system.

While the details aren’t entirely pulled together yet, we are pursuing all options to provide a comprehensive recycling program throughout the county by looking at what our neighboring localities offer that works for them and how best to offer these services to you.

We are hoping to reduce illegal dumping by beginning a pilot program at five sites throughout the county. That program includes closing the sites at night — the time when most of the abuse is occurring — and manning the collection centers with attendants for the 12 hours they are open.

This should significantly stem the level of abuse that we are seeing, making our sites cleaner and easier for our residents to use. We believe it will also bring in more revenue to the landfill by ensuring illegal dumpers pay us for what they’re putting in our landfill.

We believe that all of these things will allow us to provide you — our residents — the higher quality service that you expect.

Is there something you’d like to see us change? Do you have suggestions for what we should add to our convenience centers to make your experience better? We want to know!

Send us an email at publicrelations@pittgov.org and we will take your thoughts into consideration as we work through these improvements.