Residency, contents not regularly checked at county garbage sites

Published 11:57 am Saturday, April 12, 2014

COURTLAND—Earlier this week, staff at The Tidewater News visited eight of the 16 recycling and refuse collections sites in Southampton County. None of the attendants questioned or stopped any of us from dropping off recyclables or garbage.

Guards at the trash site on Unity Road let a truck drive by without stopping it. -- CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

Guards at the trash site on Unity Road let a truck drive by without stopping it. — CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

A requirement for using the sites is that the vehicle entering the collection facility be registered in the county or for the person entering to be a county resident. More specifically, Southampton County Administrator Michael Johnson told The Tidewater News that to enter you need any one of the three following: a decal on the car windshield; a permit, such as those issued to hunt clubs or military families whose cars aren’t registered with the county; or a driver’s license to show proof of residency.

Of the four people who went, including this reporter, only one lives in Southampton County. Of the three vehicles used, one is registered in Suffolk, and another in North Carolina.

At Southampton Meadows, the attendant waved at me as I drove in without stopping and I waved back. At Newsoms, I stopped for a moment, but no one came out. At Boykins, no one exited the shed that houses the attendant. The door opened briefly when another vehicle went up to dispose of trash. I was at the recycling bin near the entrance. Then I stopped at the entrance of the Flaggy Run site because the attendant was seated at the doorway. Asked if there was a recycling bin available, he said there was not. But he did not question whether or not I lived in the county. So I turned around and drove to Sedley. The caretaker came out only when a truck with tree limbs pulled in. I saw him look briefly at me before walking into his shed and shut the door.

Two other staff members, driving in a car with North Carolina plates, went to Ivor. They reported the attendant there was sitting in his truck. He reportedly gave them a look, but nothing else. At the Unity Road site, the attendant was reported to be standing outside his booth and waved them in.

Another staff member has reported regularly going to his trash site in the county and never being questioned. He also said he’s often noticed the attendant watching television programs. Attendants can bring their own TV sets and antennas.

In the proposed budget for fiscal year 2014-2015, the budget for refuse collection sites is $228,000, which is the same as this fiscal year, 2013-2014, and the previous one, 2012-2013.

According to the most recent report on the Board of Supervisors’ agenda, the costs in February for the part-time sites was $23,829.44. That includes the following:

• $19,524.30 for part-time salaries sites

• $1,493.61 for FICA/part-time

• $780 for contractual services (Portajohns)

• $1,691.61 for electrical services

• $165.65 for office supplies

• $174.27 for repairs and maintenance supplies

In reaction to the news about the staff visits to the garbage/recycling sites, Johnson said, “I’m not making excuses for them. Certainly they should have stopped you. But it’s not perfect.”

He added that the attendants should have noticed the car with North Carolina plates. However, Johnson added, there are “some legitimate reasons that out-of-state tags can get through: Military personnel that might be out-of-state; they don’t have to register; new county residents who have moved from out-of-state; and commercially owned vehicles licensed out-of-state.

In balance of of such lapses, Johnson said, having the sites overseen by people saves the county taxpayers.

Before July 2006, trash sites were not supervised.Then the monthly average was 1,426 tons of solid waste collected for fiscal year 2005-2006.

After establishing the overseers, the monthly average dropped to 1,023 tons, and has been steadily declining. In fiscal year 2012-2013, it was a monthly average of 694 tons; so far this fiscal year the monthly average is 695 tons.

“The waste stream [then] was double. People were illegally dumping, such as roofing shingles and other construction materials,” he said. “Their [the attendants] presence alone has caused a 50 percent shrinking of the waste stream.”

“The tipping fee is $125 a ton — that’s big money,” Johnson continued. “It has been as high as $170.”

Dallas Jones, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, acknowledged that there is some small stuff that gets through, such as a bag of trash from a kitchen.

“Our main thing is keeping out paint cans and roofing shingles [from the sites],” he said. “The attendants in my area know just about everybody who lives in the area — who comes and goes. If someone’s new, they will stop them.”

Jones said the average resident can’t put in enough garbage or recyclables to make much of a difference in weight.

Bruce Phillips, another supervisor, said he’s not aware of any out-of-town people using the sites in his district.

But as with the code of ethics, “maybe we need to take a look and see that it’s running as it should be,” he said.

What’s collected at the individual sites, Johnson said, goes to the transfer station in Franklin. There it’s rolled across scales and weighed. Then it goes to the landfill in Suffolk, though not weighed again.

Since the supervised sites were implemented, to date, there’s been a savings of $5,493,884, which includes a 92-month net savings of $5,318,536 and a 46-month diverted savings of $175,348. The latter describes trash sent to a waste management site in Waverly at $32 a ton. He added that the county is contractually obligated to send at least 95 percent of its trash to SPSA.

Asked for clarification about the savings, Johnson said, “We compare each month’s cumulative tonnage to the corresponding month in 2006 (Base Case – the last year that sites were unattended). We then multiply the difference in tonnage by the current tipping fee rate to calculate the avoided costs for the month. We then subtract the costs of operating the attended sites to come up with a net savings.

“Simply put, for instance, if we’d received last year (FY 2013) the same volume of waste that we received in 2006 with the unattended sites, our cost of disposal would’ve been $2,139,375 (17,115 tons x $125). With the attended sites, our actual net cost of disposal was $1,317,774 (8,333 tons x $125 + annual cost of manning and operating the sites, $276,149).”

He said that shows the attendants perform a service that is “very vital and cost-effective.”

Newspapers, loose leaf paper
Unwanted magazines, junk mail and envelopes
Telephone books
Aluminum cans (no lids)
Glass bottles and jars: Clear, brown and green (no caps or lids)
Plastic bottles and tubs (rinse before recycling, no caps or lids)
Steel/tin cans (no lids)
Cardboard (fold to fit into cart)
Cereal boxes (don’t include plastic liner) and other food packaging boxes (don’t include plastic inserts)
Paper towel cardboard rolls

Pizza boxes (from restaurants)
Plastic bags
Frozen food entrees
Pie plates and foil that have food on them
Light bulbs and Broken glass
Paint cans
Hazardous materials (pesticides, fertilizers, etc.)

Used Motor Oil
Southampton County Trash Sites currently have 9 sites that have containers to handle the collection of Used Motor Oil. You can carry up to 5 gallons in one trip.
Capron 22478 Pine Level Road
Courtland 22802 Meherrin Road
Flaggy Run 29388 Flaggy Run Road
Ivor 36249 General Mahone Blvd.
Joyner’s Bridge 33268 Joyner’s Bridge Road
Monroe 30080 Monroe Road
Newsoms 29365 Statesville Road
Sedley 17158 Johnson Mill Road
Southampton Meadows 33444 Maggie Street

Limbs and Debris
Southampton County is now taking limbs not over 6 inches round and not over 6 feet long at the following sites. These sites also accept grass clippings and pine straw in these containers.
Courtland 22802 Meherrin Road
Flaggy Run 29388 Flaggy Run Road
Ivor 36249 General Mahone Blvd.
Joyner’s Bridge 33268 Joyner’s Bridge Road
Monroe 30080 Monroe Road
Newsoms 29365 Statesville Road
Sedley 17158 Johnsons Mill Road
Unity 35350 Unity Road
For additional questions please contact the Southampton County Administration Center at 653-3015.