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Votes

Lower 'Tipping Fees'?

County's SWMP not a waste.

Loudoun County is a "minor player" when it comes to disposing municipal waste.

"Fairfax County is a major provider of disposal services for the county," said Supervisor Sally Kurtz (D-Catoctin) at the March 18 Board of Supervisors meeting.

The county disposed 32 percent of waste generated in calendar year 2002 at Fairfax County facilities, 9 percent at county facilities and 59 percent at other facilities.

By July 2004, the county is required to submit a revised solid waste management plan to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality under the Virginia Solid Waste Management Planning regulations.

The Board of Supervisors appointed an Ad Hoc Solid Waste Management Planning Committee in July 2002 to review and revise the county's Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) for final approval by July 2003. The revised plan is required to address the solid waste management needs of the county's Solid Waste Management Planning District, which consists of seven towns and the unincorporated areas of the county, for the next 20 years.

Kurtz, who chairs the committee, presented the draft plan to the Board of Supervisors. "The committee focused on conserving capacity without raising costs," she said.

Under state regulations, the plan is required to address all aspects of solid waste management, consider the handling of non-hazardous solid waste generated within the county and maintain a 25 percent recycling rate. The committee found that the average county resident generates 5.5 pounds of municipal solid waste a day, which in turn is collected by private companies. The county has nine permitted major collectors and 16 permitted minor collectors who work for an estimated $35 million market of collecting residential and nonresidential waste.

THE AD HOC COMMITTEE received recommendations at eight public meetings to:

* develop a recycling transfer station,

* foster competition for small independent solid waste collectors

* and lower landfill tipping fees.

The current tipping fees of $55 per ton allow for 90 to 115 years of capacity at the county landfill, currently permitted for 24 million cubic yards. At maximum impact, the landfill would have a capacity of 65 to 80 years if tipping fees were reduced to $47.50 per ton.

James Burton (I-Mercer) said small haulers are asking for the tipping fees to be decreased with large haulers agreeing, since they do not want to provide services for a smaller, isolated customer base.

"The proposal is to lower tipping fees in an attempt to make it revenue neutral," Burton said, adding that the lower rates will generate more business from smaller haulers.

Drew Hiatt (R-Dulles) agreed. "If you bring the rates down, you create competition with the private sector," he said.

Chairman Scott York (R-At large) asked for a comparison of tipping fees throughout the region. "The point is we ought not speed up the process, but that's what we're doing here," he said.

Kurtz and Burton are members of the Ad Hoc Solid Waste Management Plan Committee, along with Eleanore Towe (D-Blue Ridge) and town representatives from Hamilton, Hillsboro, Leesburg, Lovettsville, Middleburg, Purcellville and Round Hill.

A public hearing on the Solid Waste Management Plan is scheduled for April 8 with adoption scheduled later in the month. The new requirements will take effect July 1, and the plan will be reviewed every two years.