The Tires Keep Rolling In…
“[W]e have been doing a Tire Amnesty for several years. I’m always surprised how many tires are disposed through the Solid Waste facility every year,” Commissioner Ed Michael recently said. He went on to report that as of the recent Tire Amnesty Day, “We currently have a little more than 3,000 tires to dispose of since the end of December.”
While the amnesty period is usually one or two days, the facility actually takes tires all year long, although there is a small fee to accept tires on non-amnesty days. For larger tires, such as semi truck tires, a $6 fee is charged for those without rims, and farm tractor tires are charged by the width of the tire bead. Michael also reassured the community that, “We do not knowingly take in any tires from a business since they have the duty to dispose of their own waste.”
The Greene County Health Department helps by partially funding Greene County’s year-long tire disposal efforts with a grant for one-thousand five-hundred dollars. “We have a contractor that comes in once or twice per year to quarter the tires and then we send them to the landfill in Clay County,” Commissioner Michael explained.
Although everyone’s attention may currently be on the coronavirus, local health departments are interested in other aspects of health, as well, such as tire disposal, which helps control mosquito-borne diseases. In the past, samples in Greene County have been positive for such diseases, such as the West Nile Virus.
That said, Michael explained, “The Health Department grant will pay for approximately 1,500 tires annually. The amnesty brought in an additional 700 tires.”
Solid Waste Fee Still Necessary After Several Reductions
The Lintonian went on to question Commissioner Michael about the Solid Waste District and especially the twelve dollar user fee that property owners have been regularly-assessed the past several years. He explained that a few things are different now than when the facility was reconfigured and the user fee was originally imposed.
For one, the facility has been downsized to its current staff of two full-time employees and one part-time employee at Switz City station and one part-time employee at the Linton station. They also had a paid director at that time, he said going on to explain that, “I have that title, as president of the board, but I’m not paid.” They have also reduced the equipment to operate and maintain in an effort to reduce costs at the Solid Waste District.
When asked if the user fee would be dropped in the future, the Commission appeared pessimistic on that point, saying “Recyclables basically have no value now since China quit buying them. We still recycle steel, aluminum, cardboard, plastic, newsprint, books, magazines and small electrical and electronic devices for free to our residents.” Michael went on to explain, “Recycling now costs the district. Instead of receiving any money for a 30 or 40-yard container of recyclables, we have to pay for the freight to Indianapolis and a per-ton price for recycle. We also pay for freight and landfill fees per-ton for trash.”
The 2020 budget for the Solid Waste District was $224,441 total, the Commissioner said. That figure included all of the County’s recycle fees, landfill fees, container freight and rental, insurance, equipment repair, utilities, employment taxes, wages and benefits, but left the district near broke, too.
More Than Just Recycling
Aside from recyclables, the District also accepts trash for a small fee, as well. Bagged trash is accepted for a charge of two-dollars per bag, for example. The Commissioner added, “If you have an old chair, mattress, box springs, toilet, roll of carpet, etc. they will take that also. Users can call ahead to get an idea of the cost of disposal of those items. TVs and computer CRT monitors are also taken in with a small charge. Users can call ahead with the size of the CRT tube, measured diagonally, for an idea of cost.”
“The district has an average of sixty to eighty users daily with about sixty-six percent of those recycling and the balance using the trash facilities,” Michael pointed out, concluding, “The Greene County Solid Waste District could not operate without the twelve-dollar annual user fee.”
He added, “Although there is a handful of people that would like to see it gone, it is a service that many county residents depend on. Without it we would lose the battle of trash, tires, appliances, mattresses, box springs and, of course, TV’s that used to be dumped in the side ditches of our beautiful Greene County. After finally getting most of it cleaned up it would certainly be a shame to have it go backwards for all of our new residents and tourists to see.”