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Solid Waste sees savings from unpopular decision

Washington County’s decision to stop accepting construction and demolition waste at its five convenience centers is paying off.
“Cash Hollow was the biggest site for a long time, but it has now dropped to last,” Solid Waste Director Charles Baines told members of the Public Works Committee during their Dec. 1 meeting.
Approximately 100 tons were received at the Cash Hollow center during November compared to the more than 300 tons brought in during the month of March.
A closer look at the increase in drop offs and the growing expense of hauling the loads to the landfill from the convenience centers revealed the majority of unacceptable materials was coming from non-licensed project contractors in the City of Johnson City.
While the convenience centers are equipped to handle disposal of residential waste from Washington County residents at no charge, business and commercial waste should be taken directly to one of the four Class IV landfills located in surrounding counties.
Iris Glen Environmental Center in Johnson City is the only landfill in Washington County, according to Baines, and higher fees are charged because it is a Class I landfill. Rather than pay the $44 minimum tipping fee at Iris Glen or driving to another county, contractors were filling up the containers at the convenience centers for free.
“Johnson City was telling people to bring their front and back porches to Cash Hollow rather than going to the landfill,” Baines told Public Works members.
Washington County was then responsible for hauling the waste, which included a 1-ton truck of lumber that was dropped off one day. While a contract negotiated last year with Iris Glen provides a $26 disposal fee for the county, the cost of extra trips and manpower to transport items that shouldn’t be coming to the convenience centers was adding up.
A decision was made in July to stop taking construction debris at the convenience centers, and though Baines received complaint calls for weeks, it was the right move.
The county has seen a steady decrease during the last six months from this year’s high in April of 1,200 tons requiring 166 loads hauled to the landfill, compared to the 734 tons hauled last month in 84 loads.
More than $22,000 in tipping fees has been saved since the convenience centers stopped accepting construction and demolition materials. “In addition to saving on tipping fees, we’re saving on diesel fuel and transportation costs,” Baines said.