Citing losses so far this year of more than $100,000, which will become an even larger loss by the end of the fiscal year, the Pocahontas County Solid Waste Authority Board decided at its April 26 meeting to raise the Green Box Fee – the only question was by how much.
Citing the losses incurred by the Green Box program as being $11,668 so far, this fiscal year, the board realized they cannot raise it sufficiently in one year to make up for all of that loss. Board Chairman Ed Riley said it is unfair to completely blame the authority’s overall budget deficits on the green box program. He suggested that they raise the annual green box fee from the current $107 to $115, which will take effect next fiscal year – July 1,2023.
Mark Holstine, Executive Director of the West Virginia Solid Waste Board, pointed out that the state recommends that local Solid Waste Authority boards raise fees slowly, but do it every year or every other year. The last time the green box fee was raised was seven years ago when it went up $9.
The board went with the $115 fee recommended by Riley, which amounts to an $8 raise for customers. Riley said the $3 discount for paying by September will remain as well as the late fee of 10 percent if the fee is paid after December 31. It was the consensus of the board that it will need to review raising Green Box fees more frequently as Holstine recommended.
The board also recognized that in the next couple of months they will need to consider raising the tipping fee at the landfill. Riley cautioned the board that while raising the tipping fee is necessary, they will have to avoid raising it so much that the big trash hauling companies decide it would be more economical to haul their trash to the Tygarts Valley landfill. Those companies account for a lot of revenue for the Solid Waste Authority.
During a discussion of their recycling program, the members agreed that there have been multiple problems with it. Those include stolen equipment, but the biggest problem is that the market for recyclables has dropped off considerably so, in effect, there are no buyers for the recycled materials. They said there are three or four buildings at the landfill that are filled with recycled plastics and cardboard and no buyers for it.
Holstine said the recycling problems experienced in Pocahontas County are shared across the state. He said a new plastics recycling plant recently opened in Ohio, which will help the western counties of West Virginia, but won’t help here. Riley said the board will need to have a serious discussion next meeting about the future of recycling in the county.
During the discussion about the landfill, it was pointed out that they had to buy two new scales – a total cost of $55,545 – since the old scales barely passed inspection last year, and appear unlikely to last another year. They said if they fail, it takes six months to obtain new scales and that would shut down the entire landfill operation, so they ordered replacement scales now. The board also said the landfill discharge water very highly passed the toxicity tests.
Holstine suggested the board hold some public meetings to keep the citizens informed about the issues the Solid Waste Authority is facing. He offered to help with these meetings.
The board closed its meeting by going into an Executive Session to discuss the lease or purchase of the current landfill.