As Chester County property owners begin receiving the 2021 property tax notices, they will notice the new Solid Waste Disposal Fee appearing on the notice for the first time. With this fee being new for 2021, there are still many questions.
Chester County Trustee Lance Beshires and his office have provided answers to some of their most frequently asked questions regarding the fee.
So what is the Solid Waste Disposal Fee?
“The fee was established by the Chester County Commission and can only be used to provide for solid waste management, the processing and disposal of residential solid waste, and to help offset the cost of operating the Talley Road transfer station and the four convenience centers located throughout Chester County. The Private Act establishing the fee was passed by the Chester County Commission on November 16, 2020; by the TN State Legislature on March 25, 2021, and signed by Governor Bill Lee on April 7, 2021,” Beshires said.
When is the fee due?
The trustee’s office provided an insert to help explain the Solid Waste Fee, but the wrong version of the private act concerning the payment deadline was sent to the printer who does the tax statements according to Beshires. The insert with the incorrect information states that the fee must be paid within 30 days of the tax notice being mailed. However, the correct information is that Property owners have until the last day of February to pay the property taxes and the fee without interest charges.
The correct version of Section 2 of the private act states: “The solid waste disposal fee authorized by this act shall be subject to the same penalty and interest as delinquent property taxes if not paid by the time county property taxes are due (Feb 28th). The unpaid fees, penalty, interest and cost shall be a lien on the real estate and improvements.”
The Chester County Trustee’s Office collects current property taxes, and the Solid Waste Disposal Fee, from October 1 through the last day of February each year. Interest charges of 1.5% begin accruing on March 1 for property taxes as well as the fee.
Why were the tax notices delayed this year?
The trustee’s office tries to mail out the tax notices in late September or Early October, but due to some circumstances, the tax notices were mailed later than intended this year.
“Each year, we try to mail out the tax notices in late September or early October. This year, we were met with problems ranging from programming issues, printing issues, and software glitches. Also, two employees, including myself, contracted Covid in mid-September. I do hate that the notices were mailed out later than normal, but tax notices are a courtesy, and unfortunately state law does not allow for an extension of the discount,” Beshires said.
Who is charged the fee?
Every parcel that includes a residential dwelling or commercial building will be assessed the fee. That includes tax-exempt properties.
Vacant parcels will not be assessed a fee.
Why is the Trustee collecting the fee?
Other collection options were considered, but it is more cost effective and the county retains more revenue, versus paying an outside entity which would charge the county to administer the program, resulting in higher fees.
Will my mortgage company pay the fee or am I responsible for payment of the fee?
“Most mortgage companies receive an electronic file of the property tax roll and other fees. Also, since Chester County offers a 2% discount for taxes paid in full during the month of October, mortgage companies are required to take advantage of the discount, passing the savings along to the property owner. We won’t know until late October/early November if your taxes/fees have been paid. We would like to encourage you to contact your mortgage company or visit our website, www.chesterpropertytax.com, for payment confirmation,” Beshires said.
What are my options for payment of the fee?
Payment options of the annual $84 Solid Waste Disposal Fee include: in person, by mail, online payment and bank draft.
In person: the trustee’s office is located at 159 East Main Street. Their hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday. There is a drop box available for payments after 4 p.m., in the front lobby of the building.
Mail: The mailing address of the Chester County Trustee’s Office is P.O. Box 386, Henderson, TN 38340.
Online: Payment options include MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and e-check. One can view/print their tax bill or paid tax receipt and change their address. The website is https://chesterpropertytax.com; the toll-free phone number is 1-877-589-8970. There is a 2.5% fee for paying online or by phone with a credit/debit card. The e-check feature is a flat $1.00 per transaction; one simply enters their bank routing number and account number.
Partial payments and bank drafts: “The Trustee’s Office is proud to offer partial payments. I’d like to recognize the Chester County Commission for passing the resolution a few years ago allowing us to accept partial payments, and to hopefully ease the burden on our taxpayers,” Beshires said. “Also, our taxpayers can now sign up for bank draft to allow the 2021 county property taxes to be drafted from their account on a monthly basis, or all at once. While there is no form to fill out for partial payments, the bank draft program does require the customer to complete a short form and provide a copy of a voided check.”
Can we make budget cuts to lower taxes/fees?
“I would like to recognize the cooperative efforts between the Chester County Commission, the Chester County Mayor’s Office and the Solid Waste Department which are working together to keep the tax burden to a minimum,” Beshires said. “The new fee is a result of a lost revenue source, and is not a result of mismanagement of funds. Higher fuel prices, increased costs in tipping fees, and an increase of expenses due to Covid costs, prompted the offices mentioned above, to find a new source of revenue for solid waste operations. After several options were presented by the Solid Waste Department and the Trustee’s Office, the county commission voted to enact the Solid Waste Disposal Fee. It is significant to mention that the property tax rate has not changed in five years.”
What about Chester County’s recycling program?
“Staying educated about future trends and best practices in the solid waste industry-led Chester County to become a leader through the West Tennessee Recycling Hub on Talley Store Road. In addition to saving money on tipping and hauling fees, the West Tennessee Recycling Hub allows Chester County to meet state and federal mandates to divert at least 25% of our residents’ solid waste from the landfill. Since 2010, Chester County has recycled more than 30 million pounds/15,000 tons. This has saved more than $1.8 million dollars because those items did not have to be land-filled. While about 36% of residents in Henderson recycle through the blue cart program only about 18% of Chester County residents who live outside of the city recycle. These recycling statistics provide great opportunities for growth. The Solid Waste Dept and Recycling Hub focuses their education and outreach programs on increasing residential recycling. In 2020, Chester County sent 6506 tons to the landfill to be buried. Over 60 percent of this material that was landfilled could have been recycled at the recycling hub. When you recycle you save money on tipping and hauling fees by diverting materials from the landfill and provide jobs. The Recycling Hub was created 10 years ago to help rural Chester County start a recycling program to divert material from a landfill due to high tipping and hauling fees going up in the future. If you do not recycle, you are sending more trash to a landfill, and it cost more money.”
Haven’t we received grants for recycling? Can’t we just use that grant money to cover the cost of putting trash in a landfill?
“The West Tennessee Recycling Hub has allowed Chester County to receive over six million dollars in grant money that makes recycling in our community easier and more accessible, saving us money and putting us in a more sustainable situation for our residents’ future. However, grant dollars have been received for the very specific purpose of increasing recycling in the region. There are no grants available for land-filling trash.”
Did the Solid Waste Department and County Commissioners look at other options besides putting this fee into place?
“Yes. County Commissioners, the Mayor and the Solid Waste Department have spent the last two years looking at other options from pay as you throw, mandatory recycling, and property tax increase. Mandatory door-to-door trash pickup on the county would cost rural Chester County.
residents over forty dollars a month per household for one 96-gallon trash can to have a waste service company pick up trash at each house. Mandatory door to door pick up would not pick up furniture or other construction and demolition items. This is not very efficient since Chester County uses County Convenience Centers,” Beshires said.
Why do we need money for land-filling trash?
“Sales tax, hotel and motel tax, beer/alcohol/beverage tax, TVA tax and cable tax help fund solid waste. Also, in the past, Chester County used rent from the nursing home and some proceeds from its sale to offset landfill costs; the last of that allocated money was spent by the summer of 2021.”
“We respectfully ask for your patience and understanding throughout this tax season,” Beshires said. “Although we expect some errors with fee application, we are working to ensure the fee is fairly applied and to streamline the collection process. We look forward to working with our customers through another tax season. We are dedicated to serving Chester County.”