County landfill to charge for recycled TVs

WOODSTOCK – The Shenandoah County Landfill might soon need to put the fees for collecting televisions to use.

The Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 on Tuesday to establish levies the county would charge at the landfill to accept televisions and computer monitors for recycling. District 1 Supervisor John R. “Dick” Neese did not attend the meeting.

The county plans to implement the fees Nov. 15 to allow the landfill staff to post signs. The landfill will charge $5 for televisions with a diagonal screen size of 20 inches or smaller and $10 per set larger than 20 inches. The landfill receives thousands of televisions and monitors each year and officials suspect many come from people living in localities that charge to accept for the devices. The county pays a third-party contractor approximately $24,000 year to collect them.

The county could use the cash from collecting televisions to cover another pending expense. Director of Solid Waste Management Patrick Felling told the board earlier in the meeting that the county could lose a compactor site in the St. Luke area. The landowner doesn’t want to continue the contract with the county that allows the agency to operate the compactor site on the property, Felling said. The contract would expire in December.

The board’s options include buying the property, closing the compactor and directing users to alternative facilities, or expanding other sites, Felling explained. The county must restore the St. Luke property to open space should it close the compactor and let the contract lapse, he said.

District 4 Supervisor Cindy Bailey suggested the county could use the revenue it collects from accepting televisions to help cover the cost to expand a nearby compactor site. Bailey made a motion to that effect and received support from District 5 Supervisor Marsha Shruntz. However, Chairman Conrad Helsley pointed out that the motion comes after the board approved the meeting agenda. Instead, the board plans to discuss Bailey’s suggestion at its November work session.

The county operates compactors on private lots through leases, all of which expire Dec. 31, Felling said. The county reached out to landowners over the summer to see if they intended to renew the leases. Contracts allow for an automatic five-year renewal should neither the owner nor the county take action, Felling said, adding that an attorney representing the owner of the St. Luke site indicated the owner did not intend to renew the lease.

Nearby residents would need to make other arrangements to dispose of their trash should St. Luke close after Dec. 31. More than 150 homes are outside a 5-mile radius of the compactor and those users would need to find an alternative, Felling said, adding that the county runs a few compactors nearby and others are likely out of the way for some residents.

Options include purchasing the St. Luke property, leasing or buying another site, expanding a nearby facility to accommodate the increased volume or watching for the impact of closing the compactor. Vice Chairman Richard Walker asked Felling if the landowner has expressed a willingness to sell the property to the county. The site lies in Walker’s district. County Administrator Mary T. Price recalled that County Attorney Jason Ham said last week the owner has indicated he would entertain an offer.

The 18,000-square-foot property is part of a larger 200-plus-acre farm, Felling said. The county has paid almost $14,000 each year, an amount that includes the property owner tending to the compactor. The county would need to tend to the compactor should it buy the St. Luke property, Felling said.

The county spends roughly $25,000 to have personnel tend it. The price for the land remains uncertain, though Felling said one real estate expert estimated $5,000. If the county doesn’t buy the property and closes the compactor, it would need to hire a contractor to remove the concrete pad and restore the land to open space. Felling estimated the cost to restore the property at $5,000.

The county can operate the compactor through Dec. 31 and the property owner would allow time to remove the equipment and concrete. In response to a question from District 2 Supervisor Steve Baker, Felling said building a new compactor site would cost about $75,000. The county would first need to find a site in the same area, Felling added. The estimate doesn’t include the cost to lease or buy the property. St. Luke ranks fourth or fifth based on volume accepted compared to the rest of the county sites, he said.

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