Laurinburg may make trash deal with Robeson

By Terri Ferguson Smith - [email protected]

LAURINBURG — Scotland County could lose Laurinburg as a garbage customer as city officials look for a less expensive way to dispose of its solid waste.

Laurinburg hopes to save about $138,000 a year by taking its garbage to the Robeson County’s landfill in St. Pauls. That figure includes the extra costs the city will incur in gas and vehicle maintenance by driving its garbage trucks to the landfill in St. Pauls.

“There were other options nearby and that is what started this conversation,” Mayor Matthew Block said. “We wanted to look for less expensive alternatives.”

The Laurinburg City Council is expected to discuss the matter at its next council meeting on July 19 at 7 p.m.

The city sends its waste to Scotland County’s transfer station and it is then shipped to the Uwharrie landfill in Montgomery County where Scotland pays $36.50 per ton, according to Scotland County Manager Kevin Patterson.

The city currently pays the county $55.75 per ton to handle its solid waste and $31.50 per ton to handle its yard waste,such as tree limbs and outdoor debris.

Robeson County is expected to charge $38.50 per ton for municipal solid waster, although Nichols hopes to negotiate a discounted rate.

“We will present the numbers to the council,” Laurinburg City Manager Charles Nichols said. “They have asked us to do what we can to find savings for the taxpayers.”

The city will also have to decide whether to continue having its yard waste handled through Scotland County for $31.50 per ton or through Robeson County for $24.50 per ton. The city also has the option of constructing its own area in Laurinburg where limbs and trimmings could be shredded and chipped.

“All options are still on the table,” Nichols said. “We’ll accept proposals from the county.”

Council member J.D. Willis said city officials also have to consider the residents they serve.

“What you all are saying is that we could save between $136,000 and $200,000,” Willis said. “Business is business. We have to look out for the best interests of Laurinburg. That may mean taking up serious thought with Robeson County.”

Last year, the county commissioners approved a solid waste availability fee of $85 per improved parcel per address outside of municipal limits, and $55 for those in the limits of Laurinburg, Gibson, and Wagram. The fees were designed to bring the county’s landfill and other solid waste enterprises to a break-even point after years operating at a deficit. The landfill was formerly profitable due to vast amounts of waste generated in construction and industry, which have long since tapered off due to economic slowdown and green initiatives.

City officials meet with the county last month to propose the county increase the availability fee to city residents from $55 to $85 and waive residential MSW tipping fee to the city.

Patterson said the increase in the availability fees to city residents would be allocated directly back as a credit to the city as its monthly bill. Collections would be tracked and adjusted to the amount collected minus cost of collections. Residential customers would see a decrease of $2.50 a month on their bill so it would be net neutral. Commercial fees would vary depending on the customer.

Patterson said to his knowledge the city has not pledged anything on its commercial rates and larger customers like Scotia Village, Granada Terrace and the hospital would pay the fees by unit. Patterson added that some customers would end up paying more if they are multi-unit customers. Patterson said it was unclear what will happen with the commercial rates in the city.

By Terri Ferguson Smith

[email protected]

Reach Terri Ferguson Smith at 910-506-3169.

Reach Terri Ferguson Smith at 910-506-3169.

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