Shenandoah County to consider fees for taking old TVs

WOODSTOCK – The days of tossing old TVs in the Shenandoah County landfill for free might be numbered.

The Board of Supervisors plans to consider imposing fees on TVs and computer monitors. The topic comes up for discussion at the board’s work session Thursday afternoon. The county would join most other localities in the region that charge fees to recycle the electronic appliances if the board approves the proposal.

The Shenandoah County landfill receives 4,000-5,000 televisions and computer monitors each year, according to information from Director of Solid Waste Management Patrick Felling. But the county pays a third-party recycling company to ship and process the electronics – $24,000 in 2015.

The department has suggested the county charge $5 for televisions with a diagonal screen size of 20 inches or smaller and $10 per set larger than 20 inches, Felling said Tuesday. Smaller units make up approximately 75 percent of the televisions dumped at the landfill.

Shenandoah County likely attracts people from other localities that do charge to dispose of televisions and similar electronic devices, Felling said.

“We don’t know that that’s the case but we collect a lot of TVs so if someone was looking to drop a TV off and it was free here and not free elsewhere there would be, I would say, an inducement to come here,” Felling said.

The proposed fees would roughly cover the county’s cost to pay an outside company to take the electronic devices to a recycling center, he added.

Should the board vote in favor of approving the fees Felling said he would like time to let the public know.

“I would prefer to have some time, you know, a month or two to start to get the word out that this is coming down the line so people aren’t surprised by it,” Felling said.

The counties of Clarke, Fauquier, Frederick and Rockingham and the city of Winchester charge between $5 and $20 per unit.

Warren County does not operate a landfill or charge to dispose of TV sets. Warren County operates collection facilities and pays a company to take refuse to the landfill in Page County.

Frederick County charges $12 to dispose of televisions, $20 for TV sets inside wooden consoles and $8 for computer monitors. Frederick County breaks even by charging to dispose of and recycle TV sets and other electronics, Solid Waste Manager Gloria Puffinberger has said in the past. How many televisions or computer monitors the county receives each year was not available Tuesday.

While it would not be illegal for Shenandoah County to put televisions directly in the landfill and eliminate the recycling cost, many such electronic devices contain substances known to harm the environment, Felling said.

“It’s just that we feel this is a better use of the resources contained within these televisions, plus there are some toxins that we just don’t want to put in our landfill,” he said.

Felling also suggests that the county clarify the fee structure for tire disposal. The board set the current fee structure in April 2003 but the county code chapter doesn’t reflect that information. The county set the fees in 2003 at $1 for car tires, $5 for trucks and $10 for tractors and off-road vehicles. However, the code sets the fees at $1.25 for car tires, $3 for trucks and $5 for tractors and off-road vehicles.

Also at the work session, the board plans to discuss and consider District 5 Supervisor Marsha Shruntz’ and Vice Chairman Richard Walker’s suggestion that the county install security measures at its 13 refuse collection sites. As Felling notes in a memorandum for the board, employees put a bar across the site entrances at closing, but openings provide walk-in access.

“During the times the sites are closed, we have frequent incidents of illegal dumping, where people carry large items … into the site and place then either on the ground or into the compactor hopper,” Felling advised, noting that some items can damage the equipment.

Illegal dumping also costs the county when the landfill must divert from their regular duties to collect items from the compactors.

“The department is taking steps to curb illegal dumping, including the installation of surveillance,” Felling states. “Despite these steps, illegal dumping still occurs.”

Some cites such as the facility on state Route 55 are more susceptible to illegal dumping, Felling notes. In response to the board’s discussion about installing a security fence at the site, the county accepted price quotes of $9,250-$15,000 to perform the work. However, the department could save money by having employees install the fence as time allows. Fencing materials would cost about $6,500.

The department would then need to change the accessibility of the sites after hours and on holidays.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com