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BOA Sifts Through Solid Waste

By Abraham Jaroszewski Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:51 am

CARRBORO – The Carrboro Board of Aldermen unanimously passed a motion Tuesday night suggesting the Board of County Commissioners create a Tax District to fund solid waste and recycling in Orange County.

Here’s Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton

“I think that given that our costs are going to spike upward very significantly with the closure of the land fill because of this hauling stuff, that it is time to do this now,” says Chilton. “Right now. Our County Commissioners need to move forward with this.”

In an April email, County staff recommended four options to the County Commissioners: the creation of a Solid Waste Management Authority similar to OWASA, the implementation of either a full or limited County Solid Waste Tax District to raise funds for services, or simply leaving each town to decide on their own recycling program.

The Aldermen ultimately decided on the third option, wherein only those in the service area would pay a tax to help fund the program.

As far as service in Town of Carrboro is concerned, there is little difference between the second or third options. But members of the Board agreed that it would be inequitable for county residents not receiving the service to be forced to fund it.

Although the Board was generally against the creation of a Solid Waste Management Authority, one aspect of that proposal did intrigue the Aldermen—the creation of a local transfer station—which was of particular interest to Aldermen Randee Haven O’Donnell.

“The local transfer station would keep us from having to transfer to another county, which I really disapprove of,” says O’Donnell. “I think when we start to take care of the waste in our county, we’ll be better stewards. I really feel unclean sending my stuff to south Durham.”

The Board passed a motion instructing the County to bypass the creation of an authority and to simply look into the possibility a disposal station in Orange County.

The Board also agreed to participate in a Town of Chapel Hill study evaluating the viability of a local transfer station.

Other discussion revolved around some of the technological innovations the new program could implement, such as an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip in each bin as explained by Carrboro Public Works Director George Seiz.

“In essence, there is a chip in the cart that then can be read by radio frequencies,” says Seiz. “When the truck lifts it, it weighs it and that information, address and so forth, then is sent back to a central location so that you can generate information—billing and those types of things.”

Aldermen Sammy Slade also pointed out that other municipalities have used the RFID card to encourage recycling.

“What is allows for is there are communities that have used it and instituted creative programs that incentives people to recycle more by rewarding them,” says Slade, “for example by how much their recycling bin weighs.”

But despite the optimism surrounding the various options, Mayor Chilton says that until he sees politicians willing to make tough decisions on the matter, all of these ideas could be for naught.

“I’ve seen us do study after study, probably adding up to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last 22 years through different levels of local government on looking into these various technologies,” says Chilton. “All of it was for naught because we didn’t have elected officials who were committed to doing it. And I don’t know if we ever will.”

Chilton specifically mentioned studies on waste-to-energy       facilities, as well as potential landfill and transfer station sites as some of the largest expenditures.

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