Rate hike, 'county' garbage bags among complaints in Union Co.

Rate hike, 'county' garbage bags among complaints in Union Co.

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by TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC

WCNC.com

Posted on May 1, 2013 at 5:22 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 1 at 6:21 PM

UNION COUNTY, N.C. -- Union County residents could soon have to pay more to dispose of garbage bags at county solid waste sites, plus use designated county garbage bags.

Under the proposed rate increase, disposal rates would increase from 25 cents to $1 for a small bag and from 75 cents to $2 for a large bag.

Ken Guhse lives in an unincorporated area of Union County and takes his garbage to a county disposal site.  He’s against the proposal, saying it feels like government intrusion in his life via his garbage.

"I don't understand why the county feels it has the right to tell me what bag I need to use in my trash can,” said Guhse, “It doesn't strike me as the right way to go."

He says his store-bought, personally selected garbage bags work just fine.

Guhse fears some people won’t be able to afford the rate increase and will choose to dump their garbage illegally.

"People aren't going to budget for trash bags,” Guhse said.

Money is part of the reason behind the proposed rate increase. Union County Solid Waste Division Manager Bobby Banks says it costs customers 25 cents to dispose of a bag, but it costs the county 83 cents, and that has led to more than a $350,000 deficit for the county’s solid waste disposal sites.

They are currently being operated by other garbage-related fees, including transfers.

“With this current rate structure, the program continues to operate at a loss,” Banks said.

Banks says part of the proposal requiring customers to use a county garbage bag is based upon making customers pay their fair share and not having to use other fees, plus accountability.

"The site attendants are dealing with hundreds of transactions a day, making sure everyone is paying their fair share on the accountability side, also to make sure the attendants are accountable. If the wrong bag is in there we know something is going on other than what's supposed to be happening,” said Banks.

Safety is another reason behind the proposal.  It would make the disposal system cashless, since the bag purchase price would include disposal.  Banks says it puts waste disposal site employees at less risk of robbery.

Banks says a higher bag price will also encourage more recycling, which is free at the solid waste disposal sites.

The Union County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to vote on the proposal at their May 6 meeting.

If approved, the new rates would go into effect in July, but neighbors would have three months to transition to using the new bags.

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