Repeal sought of state law

Published 10:40 am Monday, June 12, 2017

WINTON – Hertford County is joining in an effort to lobby members of the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal an existing state ordinance in order to allow for the disposal of discarded electronic devices into landfills.

At their meeting here earlier this week, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners, in a 5-0 vote, approved a resolution in support of a consortium of other county and municipal jurisdictions calling for the General Assembly to repeal NC General Statute 130A-309.

The current law on the state books bans televisions, computers, monitors, printers, scanners and computer peripherals – such as keyboards and computer mouse – from being disposed in landfills.

Currently, those discarded devices are part of a recycling program. However, that program is counter-productive from a cost standpoint, according to Hertford County Public Works Director Mike Bradley. He provided financial numbers to the commissioners that showed the current costs associated with this particular program increasing seven-fold since 2013-14.

Those numbers showed that in 2013-14, the county paid Geep, Inc. $6,845.65 to haul five loads (45.3 tons) of recyclable electronics. The cost per ton at that time was $151.12.

Geep Inc. hauled six loads (48.87) tons of recyclable electronics in 2014-14 at a cost of $7,541.19. They had increased their cost-per-ton rate to $154.31 that year.

In 2015-16, the county saw a decline in the number of recyclable electronics dropped off at its collection site at the transfer station (old landfill) on Mt. Moriah Road near Winton. Only four loads (34.95 tons) were shipped out, but at a dramatically higher rate, one totaling $17,706.34. Geep, Inc. hauled three loads for $11,696.74 (at a cost-per-ton rate of $467.62) while Powerhouse Recyclables took care of the fourth load for $6,009.60 (9.39 tons at $640 each).

In the current fiscal year (2016-17), nine loads of recyclable electronics have been hauled (66.04 tons) at a combined cost of $40,237.28. Geep, Inc. has hauled five loads (37.33 tons at $651.67 per ton) and billed the county $24,326.88. Powerhouse Recyclables charged the county $18,374.40 for hauling four loads (28.71 tons at $640 per ton).

Bradley added that as of May 4, the county has another shipment ready, at a cost of $10,000.

“My budget is spent; I don’t have enough left for this latest shipment,” Bradley noted as he addressed the commissioners at Monday’s meeting.

“What we’re asking for is for the county to approve a resolution that lobbies the state lawmakers to allow us to put the electronics waste back in the landfill,” Bradley continued. “(If approved by the state) We will place these items in a lined landfill so not to harm the environment.”

Bradley added that Hertford County isn’t alone in seeing the haul rates skyrocket for electronic recyclables.

“This is rampant all over the state,” he stressed. “All counties are fighting the same deal.”

“This is making a big impact on our Solid Waste budget,” said Hertford County Manager Loria Williams. “We’ve overspent the (Public Works) budget, and we’re trying to stop the financial bleeding as the current fiscal year draws to a close.”

Williams said there is money in the Public Works Department Fund Balance.

“But, any time we have to appropriate fund balance, when the audit comes up it will show that as an operational loss,” she explained. “In these types of enterprise funds, the user fees are designed to handle all of the operational costs. We’re struggling with that because of the rising costs with the electronic recyclables program as well as the roof shingles recycling program.”

Williams said these are issues that need to be addressed as the commissioners draw closer to approving the county’s 2017-18 budget by the end of this month.

The commissioners approved the resolution in time for it to be submitted prior to a meeting in Raleigh on Tuesday involving state leaders and representatives of Albemarle Regional Health, an eastern North Carolina organization that is spearheading the effort to have NC General Statute 130A-309 repealed.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal