Solid Waste Fee
The Board of Supervisors is committed to providing quality services to Pittsylvania County citizens. This includes our solid waste collection and disposal services.
Beginning in 2018, Pittsylvania County implemented an annual solid waste fee of $120 per household. This fee is paid in two, bi-annual instalments of $60 in June and December. This fee was put in place to cover the annual operating costs and needed improvements of the collection centers and the landfill.
Why is There a Solid Waste Fee?
A previous Board of Supervisors instituted a $60 solid waste fee in the mid 2010s to pay for the annual operating costs of our solid waste services. A later board eliminated the fee, hoping to cover the costs by pulling money from other general government categories instead.
In 2018, the fee was instituted again and increased to $120 annually. This was necessary because Pittsylvania County had been forgoing crucial investments in areas like public safety and education to fund solid waste, and the amount being put into solid waste didn’t allow for any operational improvements or development of better convenience centers.
When the fee was put in place, Pittsylvania County converted all solid waste operations into an enterprise fund - meaning that it is a self-supporting fund that operates like its own business. Previously, all solid waste operations had been paid for out of the general fund budget, which comes from real estate and personal property taxes.
What Does the Solid Waste Fee Pay For?
The Solid Waste Fee pays for general, day-to-day operations of the Pittsylvania County landfill, as well as 21 convenience centers and greenbox sites spread throughout the county. The annual revenue from the solid waste fee is approximately $3.13 million, which mostly covers the $3.37 million in annual operating costs for all solid waste. Of that $3.37 million, about $2 million is for collections, which includes all convenience centers and trash trucks and drivers, and $1.3 million for disposal at the landfill.
Before the Solid Waste Fee was instituted in 2018, many of these convenience centers and greenbox sites were in complete disarray. These sites were created for residential use, but contractors would fill them to the brink, so site attendants have been placed at some of the busiest sites to ensure that every citizen has room to leave their trash. Improving the cleanliness and flow of these sites is important to ensure that our citizens can conveniently dispose of their garbage.
When it comes to solid waste, the Board of Supervisors has prioritized not only maintaining the same level of service, but making improvements to truly make trash disposal convenient. This includes bringing on site attendants to maintain some of our higher-traffic sites and working with consultants to drastically improve bury practices at our landfill – reducing its costs and increasing its lifespan.
As a result, Pittsylvania County has begun using the landfill to generate revenue by allowing other localities to bring their trash.
If Pittsylvania County is Generating Revenue from the Landfill, Why Do We Still Have a Solid Waste Fee?
While the current solid waste fees and landfill payments can mostly cover the operations of the landfill and convenience centers, there is not extra for additional necessary expenses – such as closure and expansion of trash cells, facility and equipment improvements, or the development of new convenience centers.
In 2020, Pittsylvania County began experimenting with using the landfill to generate revenue. A trash hauler has brought waste from the Town of Bedford since the beginning of 2020, and, beginning on Jan. 1, 2021, trash from Martinsville and Henry County is received at the Pittsylvania landfill. These revenues, which total about $1.8 million annually, are earmarked for capital improvements that would be needed either way. This revenue replaces the need for citizens to pay more than $120/year for garbage service.
For instance, we are currently beginning the process of closing the current cell - which is the area of the landfill where trash is buried - and opening a new one. The simultaneous closing and opening of a cell can cost upwards of $6 million. In early 2021, new compacting equipment was also purchased to replace the outdated, inefficient compactor that had been operating at the landfill - a necessary expense that will be covered by this extra revenue. By accepting solid waste from other counties, we are in a position to absorb this expense, along with the development of several new convenience centers that are already underway, without raising fees on our citizens or incurring long-term debt.