By Kendall Patterson
The Chester County Commission held the quarterly meeting on Monday, July 27, and one of the main items on the agenda was to revisit the Solid Waste Trash fund.
The Solid Waste fee of $96 is one of the options considered to provide funds for Solid Waste to pay for trash to be put in landfills.
The other option would include the $0.15 (cent) property tax increase across the board.
If your property appraisal is $256,000, your property tax increase would be the same amount as the proposed convenience fee – $96. If it is over $256,000, your property tax increase would be greater than the proposed $96 fee while anything under $256,000 would be less than the proposed $96 fee. For example, on a property with an appraisal value of $100,000, the property tax would only increase by $37.50 a year.
(These figures are based on residential properties; commercial and industrial properties would be slightly higher).
There is also the option to pay to dump trash as you go.
The last option is to use the $900,000 from the sale of the nursing home; however, Solid Waste would have to approach this problem with the county commission again in the next couple years. On top of that, the $900,000 is county money that is currently designated to be used for county emergencies.
Solid Waste would have to have funds of at least $420,000 to operate which breaks down as $308,000 to replace the funds from the nursing home, a $52,000 overage of the Solid Waste line item and $60,000 that the city of Henderson normally pays Solid Waste for the tipping fee of city residents’ trash.
If they went with the $96 fee with information from the 2010 Census, which reported that Chester County had 7,158 homes, it would bring in approximately $684,000.
This information prompted an attending Chester County resident to ask what is happening to the other $264,000. Danny Bernard, Solid Waste Director, and Amber Greene, Recycling Coordinator, said that after conversation with other professionals in their field along with other counties that are dealing with the problem, they were advised to over budget.
He also said it was in order for Solid Waste to have a steady income in the future.
“We could go lower, but I was told to go high because you may only collect 70 percent of what you want,” Bernard said.
County resident Dan Galatro asked them if they could cut funds anywhere? Their response was that all the services and equipment that Solid Waste already provides is a vital part of keeping the trash handled in the community. They said some cuts could possibly be made, but any cuts would cause other problems.
Commercial haulers take some county residents’ trash to Solid Waste as a service, so someone asked, if they pay the commercial haulers, why do they have to pay the $96 fee as well. Bernard and Greene said that it is their decision to pay the commercial haulers for their service and also that the fee had to be fair for everyone across the county.
District 6 Commissioner Todd Lewis put together a survey asking his district if they preferred the raise of property taxes or the $96 fee, and out of 114 participants, 60 percent said they were in favor of raising property taxes.
Mayor Barry Hutcherson decided no action should be taken until more information such as the number of trash-producing homes can be given,
County Trustee Lance Beshires along with Bernard and Greene stressed that this decision can not be put off much longer.