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County leaders increase landfill tipping fees

By Joshua Lucas
Staff Writer
Against the objections of town leaders, the Orange County Board of Commissioners moved forward May 26 with a plan to charge more to dump trash at the county’s landfill on Eubanks Road.
Town leaders had said that the plan, which aims to use the increased fees to pay for community improvement projects in the neighborhoods around the landfill, would put undue stress on already tight budgets this year. Carrboro leaders estimated the additional $5 per ton fee would cost the town about $20,000 this year.
“I’m disappointed that they’re moving forward,” Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said. “There’s concern that’s shared about how we can work together to mitigate the issues affecting the Rogers Road neighborhood.
“What I’m disappointed with is that the increase in the fee occurred 20 days before we had to approve a budget.”
Commissioners said they felt they had to honor their commitment to the Rogers Road neighborhood.
“I feel like reducing it now would be backpedaling,” Commissioner Earl McKee said.
Commissioners Barry Jacobs and Alice Gordon said they were eager to find a compromise. Carrboro and Chapel Hill leaders had proposed a phased increase in the tipping fees, starting at $2 this year, which Jacobs said he preferred.
“It would just be a more diplomatic and friendly way to do this,” Jacobs said.
County waste officials say 46 percent of the waste deposited at the landfill comes from Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
In the end, a visibly frustrated Commissioner Valerie Foushee argued that the board was once again threatening to retreat on commitments it had made to the Rogers Road neighborhood — this time, literally, at the eleventh hour, since the discussion was being held at the end of a long evening budget work session.
The Eubanks Road landfill was opened by the town of Chapel Hill in 1972, with ownership taken by the county in 2000. When it opened, then-Chapel Hill Mayor Howard Lee told neighbors the landfill could be closed within a decade. Residents of the Rogers Road neighborhood near the landfill have said that the landfill is responsible for illegal dumping, unpleasant odors and underdevelopment in the area.

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