Trash fees may go up ‘considerably’

Published 9:33 pm Wednesday, November 26, 2008

COURTLAND—Tipping fees, the costs associated with disposing of garbage, will probably be “increasing considerably” in 2009, the executive director of the Southeastern Public Service Authority warned Southampton County supervisors Monday.

Rowland L. “Bucky” Taylor, who came to the helm at SPSA in August, told the county board that the current economic climate is hurting the authority, as well as a reduction in the amount of some types of waste the authority accepts.

In a Nov. 15 letter to SPSA board members, Taylor warned that despite several recent actions — a hiring freeze, the elimination of most travel and training opportunities, and a directive to departments to cut spending by 4 percent — tipping fees after Feb. 1 would not decrease to $80 per ton, as originally thought, but rather “will likely be increasing considerably above the current $104 per ton in our (current projections).”

The tipping fee could be more than $125 per ton, Taylor said.

“When you’re looking at a $104 figure now, that was supposed to go back to $80, that potentially is going to go up above the $125 range, something is necessary to be able to try and make as many reductions (in spending) as possible,” Taylor told the county board.

Taylor said he was hopeful that a new tipping fee schedule would be presented to the SPSA board at its next meeting on Dec. 18. Any changes to the tipping fees would take effect on Feb. 1.

“We wish there could be some decreases, but that does not look like it’s in the cards at this particular time,” Taylor said.

The amount of construction and demolition debris being accepted by SPSA was also “lagging dramatically” Taylor had written to the SPSA board, primarily for two reasons: the bad economy, and competition from elsewhere.

“If you’re not building houses, you’re not building businesses, a lot of that (waste) is not coming to us,” Taylor told the county board.

Taylor also told the county that a decision by SPSA in July to increase the costs for disposing of construction and demolition debris from $22 to $30 per ton helped SPSA’s competition, primarily Richmond and the Big Bethel Landfill in the Newport News, where the cost is $19 per ton.

“The bottom just fell out of that particular market,” Taylor said. “We’re not getting the tonnages whatsoever.”

He said the expected tonnage for construction and demolition debris was $2.4 million short of budgeted estimates for this year.

SPSA was created in the 1970s to handle most of the garbage in South Hampton Roads.

Eight communities — Isle of Wight and Southampton counties, and the cities of Franklin, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach — are served by