CHATHAM — While members of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors are tasked with digging for ways to pay for ongoing expenses at the county landfill, re-establishing a solid waste fee for county taxpayers won’t be on the table anytime soon.
“We’ve been talking for several months about funding our solid waste operation,” Pittsylvania County Administrator David Smitherman said at a Tuesday afternoon work session. “We basically have two options to fund it.”
The options floated before the board to fund increasing costs at the landfill included what would be easier for the treasurer’s office to implement — raising the real estate tax across the board or to reinstate the solid waste fee.
After many members expressed frustration with the trash tax, the board decided to delay the possibility of a solid waste fee for at least a year.
But that doesn’t preclude a possible tax hike to pay for the landfill.
In 2015, the supervisors voted to abolish a $60 per-household annual fee that had been created in 2012 to help cover costs of the landfill and make money available to pay for the high school renovation bond.
“I’ve always had an issue with the garbage tax,” Westover District Supervisor Ron Scearce said. “The second issue I have is there’s a collection issue if someone decides not to pay.”
Implementing the solid waste fee again would have required quick action.
“We are in a very tight window to get this into our billing cycle for the next billing in June,” Smitherman said. “We have to get software changes done. In order to get this done, they must have a yay or nay by the middle of January about whether we want to do this.”
“At face value, [the solid waste fee] looks and sounds great,” Staunton River District Supervisor Elton Blackstock said. “The problem is, the code section doesn’t give you any bite to collect it. There’s a lot of reasons that the other localities are not doing it.”
There are currently no counties that operate with a solid waste fee, though there are several localities that are specifically allowed to by the General Assembly, according to according to Pittsylvania County Attorney Vaden Hunt.
“There’s a lot of hypotheticals we don’t know,” Tunstall District Supervisor Tim Barber said. “I can’t support it that quick. I know we’re on a time frame, but how can we start it until we know where we’re at,” he asked.