Solid waste service fee policy

County Planning Director Cory Lytle presented some changes in accordance with amending the solid waste service fees since Lincoln County has taken over operation of the solid waste hauling and landfill.

In speaking to the board of county commissioners this week, Lytle presented his idea for amendments to two previously approved resolutions.

One of the earlier resolutions eliminated the waiver except for a person owned property or had a home more than 20 miles away from a dumpster or qualified for a financial hardship, they would continue to be granted a discount. Lytle said there were eight such property owners in the county in 2016.

He said the solid waste bills were sent out a bit late in February, and when they began to be returned, many people were still claiming to be covered by what were called “seasonal discounts.”

He said those particular discounts amounts to about $15,000 a year the county is not getting to provide service.

Lytle recommended to the commission, which was later accepted after much discussion, that the county retain the two previously adopted resolutions and implement a third proposal of a 50 percent discount for a second home in the county that is unoccupied. “People would have to prove it is unoccupied,” he said.

Lytle said there are about 40 such homes in the county, which are not occupied on a full-time basis. Those homes would be subject to a 50 percent discount on the solid waste service fee, or in other words, a monthly landfill bill.

The loss revenue to the county by doing that, he said, is between $26,000 – $27,000 per year, based on previous discounts that were allowed.

The reasoning, Lytle explained, is that, “if it is an occupiable home, hooked up to the grid, in most cases, it is an occupiable home, no matter how much time a person spends or doesn’t spend there.”

He said, “It is very difficult for us to go to every place and try to determine whether the person deserves a discount or not. In the real world, there are no discounts. If you are hooked up utility-wise, you pay what that rate is each month, no exceptions.” He added, “We have to turn the corner on this.”

The additional revenue the new amendment would generate will help run the landfill, which is expected to cost about $533,000 per year to provide the service, at least for a couple of years, before improving.

The definition of term “occupiable” in the amendment, Lytle said, is if the utility power has been disconnected for a period of six months during the solid waste billing cycle of the current fiscal year, or the dwelling unit is deemed unfit for human occupancy.

“There are a bunch of those in the county also,” he said, “and we are currently charging those a lower set rate. They are on the tax roles as a dwelling unit, but is not occupiable, and is given a discount.”

Lytle said he understood the frustration of someone who owns a home in Lincoln County, but lives elsewhere, still getting a garbage bill or a utility bill if those services are hooked up. “We are having to re-create this utility format and structure for residential and commercial.”

Daryl Bradshaw said he was attending on behalf of several residents in the Maloy/McDermitt area, none of whom, he said, are hooked up to a meter, using solar instead.

He said the residents were complaining about not receiving a letter of notification of the high solid waste service fee increase and paying now for something they are not receiving, because they handle their trash themselves, which is usually minimal.

Lytle could not say why the residents had not received a letter of notification but would work to see that timely notifications would be made if future changes might be needed.

Bradshaw recommended the landowners in that area be allowed a six-month discount until the next fiscal year begins in July. Lytle said he thought his office would be able to do that.

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