WAGRAM — More objections to the county’s new landfill availability fee were raised on Thursday night at the regular meeting of the Wagram town commissioners.
The town had County Manager Kevin Patterson on hand to explain the new fee — $55 annually for residents of Wagram and other municipalities — and answer questions.
“I’m already kind of perturbed about the taxes in Scotland County,” said town resident Linda McLaughlin, who as the owner of four properties was billed for $220 in landfill fees.
“We pay garbage pickup at the curb,” she said. “Probably, since I’ve been living in Wagram, five or six times I’ve used the landfill. If I’m already paying for my trash to be picked up, why am I paying for the landfill?”
The commissioners voted in June to assess a landfill availability fee for each improved property in the county in an effort to bring the operation of its solid waste operation, which ended the last year more than $250,000 in the red, to a profitable margin.
“The state is constantly telling us that we have to find ways of either cutting costs, which we’ve not been able to do, or raise revenue,” Patterson said.
He also pointed out that much of what residents of Wagram, Laurinburg, East Laurinburg, and Gibson pay for trash collection covers the municipality’s cost to own and operate garbage collection equipment. A small portion of those fees is forwarded to the county to transport the garbage elsewhere.
“At that point in time, we’re spending $700,000 a year to send that garbage up to Montgomery County where it’s buried in a lined landfill,” said Patterson. “Those are just some of the costs that we have to get in so we’re not going to one day have to hit the taxpayer much harder through property taxes to correct the situation.”
The meeting then segued into a discussion of litter, which the county has tried to address by arranging for a supervisor for an inmate cleanup crew. But, as Mayor Milton Farmer commiserated, it takes little time for garbage to accumulate anew.
“If you pick it up one day, they cut the grass, it’s beautiful,” he said. “Then you come by the next day somebody just leaves Nic’s and eats the chicken or whatever and throws the whole box out there.”
McLaughlin also appealed to the Wagram commissioners to find some way to pay for the manpower necessary to combat weeds and overgrowth along town curbs. Currently, the town has two maintenance workers on staff: one full-time and one part-time.
“Another thing that bothers me is the kind of people you attract with the way your town looks. Nobody’s going to come to Wagram if they see all this trash,” McLaughlin said.
Commissioner Hyder Massey agreed that the town should consider giving its part-time maintenance worker full-time hours, at least until late autumn.
“If you go outside this building, right there over at the police department the grass is knee high,” he said. “We see it, but we just don’t have the staff to do what we need to do.”
In other business on Thursday, the board approved rental fees for the new community building on McKay Street of $25 hourly on top of a $75 deposit.
“We’re not trying to get rich off of it, but we want to make sure we cover the expenses of the building and make a little change,” Farmer said.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.