An increase in disposal rates to Douglas Land Fills approved last month by the Board of Commissioners began on Oct. 1, leading some garbage services to question such a large increase, even as more than a decade had passed since the last rate adjustment.
Douglas commissioners voted last month to raise fees to cover rising costs needed to maintain and operate the Landfill Enterprises Fund.
But since then concerns raised by local haulers sent commissioners back to the drawing board last at their Oct. 3 meeting to revisit the issue before voting 3-2 to give a price break to local waste haulers and revise the Municipal Solid Waste fees to $48 per ton, down from $60, restricted only to local haulers with a business license and a permanent business location in Douglas County.
Douglas County owns and operates the Cedar Mountain Landfill and the Camp Road Transfer Station. Funding for both comes out of the Landfill Enterprises Fund, which is supported by user fees. Per state law no tax dollars are used for maintenance and operations, salaries, equipment or other costs.
According to information provided in a press release, the increase was the first since 2005.
“We are getting a push back from local haulers who are located here, licensed here and many own property here,” Gary Jenkins, director of the landfill/solid waste and recycling told Douglas commissioners.
But according to Jenkins, the discount to local haulers doesn’t include construction demolition and brush/vegetation. All other previously approved fees remain in effect.
Prior to the BOC’s rate adjustment earlier this month to local haulers, some residents and members of the Douglasville & Douglas County for Civic Action Facebook group noted that the initial increase of over 50 percent would lead to higher trash collection bills.
The BOC's initial decision last month would have affected all of the commercial haulers of residential trash over 300 pounds, commercial refuse, construction and demolition material and vegetative waste, increasing the cost to $60 per ton, making Douglas County’s landfill fees in parity with rates already in effect in neighboring counties.
District 4 Commissioner Ann Jones Guider could not be reached for in time for comment, but prior to the board’s vote Oct. 3 did voice her support for giving a discount to local haulers.
“I think this is a consideration of small businessmen,” she said. “I think it’s listening to their concerns about making a living and I find that refreshing.”
According to a spokesperson at Hometown Waste Removal contacted by phone, the adjustment to the rate made by the board Oct. 3 with regard to local haulers was okay especially considering the length of time without any such increase.
And according to Greg Roberts, director of Maintenance and Sanitation for the city of Douglasville, city residents will not see higher taxes.
“The Douglas County Landfill is operated under the authority of Douglas County and not the city of Douglasville," Roberts said. "Residents of the city of Douglasville will not see increases in their city taxes nor will they see any increased charges related to their normal solid waste fees as result of the changes at the Douglas County Landfill.”
But Rick Martin, Douglas County deputy director, communications, contacted by phone, said that customers within the county that may choose to use a hauler not meeting the board’s most recent criteria could see a higher bill.
“The residential Municipal Solid Waste drop off customers (those who elect to not use a hauler) will remain the same at $5 and $7. This will include Paulding County residents as well. Those who utilize a hauler will most likely incur an increase in fees,” Martin said. “[In that case] it’s up to the individual hauler and the customer to negotiate a fee.”