DAYTON, Tenn. - Rhea County commissioners voted this week to impose a $4-per-ton tipping fee for municipal waste deposited at the county landfill to cover a projected shortfall in the solid waste budget.
A motion to that effect had been offered "about three meetings ago by Commissioner [Bill] Hollin," said Commissioner Ron Masterson, who asked Tuesday that the panel consider the idea again "since we have the information we were seeking."
Hollin said the fee, which will be charged to the cities of Dayton, Spring City and Graysville as well as for county-hauled garbage, is expected to generate $96,000 per year. The plan to charge the county general fund sparked questions. Commissioners said the projected deficit in the solid waste budget this year is $322,000.
"The question I have is, are we going to take money out of the general fund and put it right back into waste disposal?" Commissioner Ronnie Raper asked.
"That's my understanding," Chairman Jim Reed responded.
Masterson said that "wherever it comes from, and wherever it goes, solid waste needs the funds. The cities probably will have to adjust rates accordingly."
Hollin said that Santek Environmental, the landfill operator, would prepare monthly reports for billing the cities. Santek does not charge the county or its cities a tipping fee, but operates the landfill off the fees charged other users.
According to the motion, the fees will start Jan. 1.
In other matters, commissioners voted 7-2 against a motion to support a change in the state open meetings law. The Williamson County Commission has asked for support of a proposal to allow county governments to operate under the same open meeting regulations as does the state General Assembly. Under the General Assembly's rules, as many as four commissioners could meet to discuss county business without notifying the public. Commissioners rejected the request.
They also agreed to place on the agenda for their Dec. 13 workshop consideration of whether to build a new jail or a justice center, the language for contracts with a construction manager and architect, and how to finance construction.
Tom Davis is based in Dayton. Email him at email@example.com.