Summit County: Task force tossing out landfill solutions
Ryan Summerlin November 15, 2012
Local residents don’t currently pay for it, but recycling isn’t free.
The cost of the waste diversion service has put the Summit County Landfill in the red in recent years as revenue from trash has plummeted.
Now, with the already-strapped Summit County government ponying up $155,000 next year to keep the once self-sufficient facility afloat, local officials are considering asking voters to approve a new tax to pay for recycling services.
“We’re certainly leaning in that direction,” assistant Summit County manager Thad Noll said. “We have to figure out a way for people to pay for recycling.”
Many Summit County residents already pay their trash haulers to pick up their recycling, but the processing service is free at the county-owned landfill.
A task force charged with addressing the landfill’s budget problems is vetting the idea of a property tax ballot question, but there are other possible solutions.
One would be ending the local recycling program.
“We don’t want to cut recycling,” Noll said. “We think recycling is important. It’s important for our community, it’s important for the environment, it’s important for the life of the landfill and it’s important because it’s the socially, human right thing to do.”
If a landfill-targeted tax was to be put to the voters, it would likely be a slim property tax increase, amounting to approximately $2.23 per $400,000 in property value. The question would appear as a countywide measure and would have to win the approval of the Summit Board of County Commissioners to make it to the ballot.
“We’re definitely working on a ballot measure for next November,” said Breckenridge Town Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe, who sits on the task force.
The idea of a sales tax was put forward, but shot down by officials from the local towns, Noll said.
It’s still unclear how a tax increase might impact trash hauler’s service fees, officials said. But it’s possible local municipalities might move to a mandated volume-based fee system, which present a higher cost for residents who produce more trash creating an incentive for people to recycle.
“Right now, if I put out a giant garbage can and my neighbor puts out almost nothing, because they’re recycling, I pay the same,” Noll said. “In that case, he’s subsidizing my garbage disposal.”
With details still to be ironed out, task force members will likely continue to work on the issue with the goal of coming out with a recommendation in the spring, according to Noll.