Yes, we’re talking trash.
We have in this space regretted the adoption of House Bill 56 in the General Assembly. It gave money to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and the University of North Carolina Wilmington to study GenX in the Cape Fear River, but ignored a very legitimate and reasonable request from Gov. Roy Cooper to beef up an overburdened state water quality division.
Meanwhile, there’s a provision in the law that could potentially harm New Hanover County.
HB56 reverses requirements that trash haulers bring garbage to local government-owned landfills, if the landfills aren’t encumbered with debt.
Once New Hanover County finishes paying the $60,000 debt on its landfill, expected in December 2020, haulers will be free to take the garbage wherever they like.
For more years than we wish to remember, the county has wrestled with attempts by haulers to convince county officials to let them carry our garbage to other counties.
Tipping fees at the landfill generate $15 million a year in income for the county from commercial haulers such as Waste Industries, which owns the Sampson County landfill and might be tempted to truck its waste 70 miles up the road.
Joe Suleyman, the county’s director of environmental management, said up to 95 percent of that $15 million in revenue could be jeopardized by the General Assembly’s move.
It’s unclear whether the Republican-dominated legislature considered the impact on local tax revenue.
New Hanover County Commissioner Rob Zapple said the environmental services department provides recycling services — including recycling of construction debris and electronics — satellite drop-off sites for garbage and a mobile van to collect hazardous materials. It will soon add a food composter.
Landfill fees help cover the cost for those services. Zapple warns that the law could threaten the services. The county landfill is expected to last more than 40 years, bolstered by a southern expansion that received its operating permits a few years back.
We hope the county will be able to sign contracts with local haulers committing them to use the New Hanover landfill. And New Hanover won’t be the only county affected.
The haulers have every right to try to maximize their profits. But taking away the ability of local governments to decide where local trash winds up is just the latest power grab by a General Assembly that has decided Raleigh knows best.
Whatever happened to Republicans’ advocacy for decentralized government? It seems to have been tossed into the landfill.