Mandating garbage collection

11

Patrick County has at least five ordinances governing cats and dogs but only one regulating solid waste disposal (SWD).  Which is of greater concern?  The 1973 SWD Ordinance has stood the test of time.  It also empowers the Board of Supervisor of Patrick County (BOS) to regulate SWD and set fees. This being an election year, the BOS doesn’t have the stomach for controversy and has directed the county administrator to come up with ideas that won’t have to be acted upon until budget time and probably new members. Let me offer some solutions.

Many municipalities provide for solid waste collection and mandatory participation and offset costs with fees or taxes. Our county has minimized getting into the business by regulating the collection effort through the use of franchisees like Rural Services, Inc. of Claudville and other (supposedly) permitted and licensed collectors.

The problem, as I see it, is that participation by residences for using these services is strictly voluntary.  Lower participation necessitates that the franchisee charge higher fees to the voluntary subscribers.  In the Free State of Patrick, “mandatory” is a fightin’ word that can lead to political suicide or, worse yet, revolt.  Furthermore, if participation is mandated, then how is it to be enforced?

What could be gained by universal residential use of licensed collectors? (1) Lower fees for users. (2) No residential trips to the transfer station; hence a lower carbon footprint – meaning less wasted vehicle fuel. (3) No roadside bagged garbage liter. (4) Less outdoor garbage burning, although I am a believer in “reduction” and I heat with newspaper inserts and junk mail. (5) A reduction in open garbage pits on farms, etc., which are illegal anyway.

The first who will be opposed to my kind of thinking will be those who live near the transfer station or those who are willing to trade their time and go to the transfer station to “save” on fees.  What if the transfer station were only available to licensed collectors?

Another group of opposition will be those who freely (and with permission) piggy back their trash on a paying subscriber, be it neighbor or relative.  (Ha! Section 5.A of the ordinance says permission has to be in writing, but how does that help those who pay?)

I understand that there is a problem with animals disturbing containers put out for pickup. Another problem is wind blowing containers. Find a way to deal with it.

Exceptions to “mandatory participation” already exist. Fee based bulk containers are available to commercial and industrial establishments, mobile home parks, and grouped residential bulk containers for property owners associations and others.

The 1973 ordinance* is intended to provide for the health and welfare of the county – the common good.  Let’s give it some thought.

*see www.co.patrick.va.us/ordinances for Solid Waste Disposal

Charles Vivier

Meadows of Dan