Newton County will be charged to pick up refuse oil at its convenience centers.
Farmers Oil previously paid the county to pick up refuse oil, but decreases in the crude oil market no longer covers the cost of pickup. Instead, the company has announced it will charge 25-cents a gallon to pick up refuse oil. The company will also charge $25 a barrel for used oil filters.
At Thursday’s Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting, the board unanimously agreed to pay the cost for the pickup.
According to Newton County Interim Manager Lloyd Kerr, the county recycled a little more than $8,000 gallons of oil during the last year. If the 25-cents per gallon fee had been charged during that time period, it would have cost the county $2,000 for the oil brought in to the convenience centers, otherwise known as the county’s recycling centers.
Commissioners, in general, agreed that $2,000 a year wouldn’t be too much to continue the service at the convenience centers, though District 2 Commissioner Lanier Sims said, “I agree that $2,000 is not a lot of to spend, and I hate to say that because we need every penny. I think it is an issue for the Solid Waste Authority to handle when they are formed.”
Another issue discussed among the commissioners was the environmental impact the oil could have if there wasn’t a place for citizens to dispose of it. The fear is that if there was a charge for the oil some citizens would begin dumping it.
“For environmental purposes I think we should leave the oil alone for now,” District 5 Commissioner Levie Maddox said.
“If we don’t provide a place for people to put the oil, it will go into ground pollution,” District 1 Commissioner John Douglas added. “Driving along Adams Circle toward Hwy. 11 from the recycling center there’s a big pile of garbage in the woods, including a sofa on the side of Adams Circle.”
Sims, who said “we have good citizens; they’re not going all going to dump sofas in the woods,” warned about the cost of maintaining the convenience centers.
“I agree $2,000 is not a huge amount of money that we’re spending, but the part that I disagree with is at some point this community is going to have to face all those recycling centers [and] all those services are not going to be there forever,” he said.
The board of commissioners has been discussing whether or not to charge for the convenience centers for some time, and will put that question in front of a Solid Waste Authority. The board voted to reactivate the authority during the Jan. 21 meeting.
The authority was reformed in order to help the county manage its landfill, regulate the convenience centers and manage solid waste costs. Items the BOC has been trying to manage for years but have led to a deficit in the county’s solid waste department, despite urging from several county managers and department heads.
“John Middleton, Tom Garrett, Harry Owens, Michelle Kelly, Jason Peters and Mr. Kerr have all said we need to do something with this,” Maddox said. “I think it’s ironic that we’re not listening to what county managers tell us, while we’re getting the charter changed to be a county manager form of government.
Maddox requested that an item be placed on the agenda of the next BOC meeting to vote up or down ways to increase revenues in the county’s solid waste department.
“We have to make progress,” Maddox said. “We cannot give birth to a Solid Waste Authority and not make any decision.”
Douglas also requested an the county work on an item related to solid waste.
“It’s become clear to me that this county is not capable of emptying the convenience center bins,” he said. “I would like to place a request for bid to privatize hauling.”