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The Daily Tar Heel

Board of Aldermen discuss new recycling fees

Gayle Wilson, director of the Orange County Solid Waste Management Department, presented two new funding options to the Carrboro Board of Aldermen on Tuesday night. The fees will pay for services such as curbside recycling and convenience centers.

“The last couple of years have been unusual because not a lot of these fees were charged to people,” said George Seiz, director of public works for Carrboro. “It was somewhat of a legal question.”

In the past two years, Orange County residents have only had to pay for the $47 annual basic recycling fee.

Former fees included $52 per year for urban curbside recycling and $38 per year for rural residents, but the fee was last billed to residents in 2012. In recent years, those costs have been covered by Solid Waste Management reserve funds instead.

The Solid Waste Advisory Group, consisting of representatives from each elected board in Orange County, convened in August to suggest new funding options.

The first option will charge a separate fee for urban and rural residents, with urban residents paying $94 per year and rural residents paying $118 per year.

The extra $24 rural residents pay is due to low-density development in rural areas, Wilson said.

The second option will charge a single comprehensive fee to all residents at $103 per year.

“Compared to the previous system, this is much simpler, and it sort of eliminates us versus them and rural versus urban,” Wilson said.

“This is an integrated fee, and we actually operate in an integrated system, so this reflects how we operate.”

The elected boards will have to select a funding option by March 26 in the Assembly of Governments meeting.

All boards will have to approve the fees by the end of April to meet the county’s 2015 tax billing schedule.

At least three members from the Board of Aldermen were in favor of the second funding option.

“I think the rural-urban split is artificial,” said Alderwoman Bethany Chaney.

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“The rural areas have not been receiving comparable service, and asking them to pay more to get services that the rest of us have doesn’t seem to be fair.”

“We very strongly favor option two for equity,” said Alderwoman Randee Haven-O’Donnell.

“We really need to act in an equitable fashion.”

According to the documents provided by the group, financial assistance will be provided to qualifying low-income residents incapable of paying solid waste program fees.

About 700 units received financial assistance in 2014.