UNION COUNTY, N.C. -- The Union County Board of Commissioners voted to approve a rate hike to dispose of garbage bags at the six solid waste sites within the county.

Disposal rates jumped from 25 cents to 75 cents for a small, 13-gallon bag, and went up to $1.25 from 75 cents for a large, 33-gallon bag.

Additionally, the board asked that county staff evaluate an additional pricing structure for 55-gallon bags.

The initial proposal also called for customers to use designated county garbage bags, however, the board did not approve the proposed portion of the rate structure and method of payment at the convenience sites that would've required the pre-purchased, specially-marked garbage bags. One reason cited by advocates for this part of the proposal said the specific pre-purchased trash bags would have made the disposal system cashless, and therefore safer for the attendants.

Union County Solid Waste Division Manager Bobby Banks says the county's solid waste disposal sites were costing the county money; the 25 cents the customer paid to dispose of a bag cost the county 83 cents, leading to more than a $350,000 deficit.

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

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

The rate increases will go into effect on July 1.

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