MADISON — Although it has not been made official, it is anticipated that Boone County will close down its transfer stations by the end of the year.
The issue is on the Boone County Commission’s agenda for Tuesday evening starting at 5 p.m. on the third floor of the Boone County Courthouse judicial annex building.
This would end free trash dumping for county residents that currently do not pay for residential trash pick up, as well as the City of Madison being able to dump its trash twice a week at the Rock Creek Department of Highways station, just off Corridor G (U.S. 119). The closures are expect to happen by the end of the year.
The Fosterville transfer station, located on state Route 3 just above Seth, would also be closed to residential dumping and the county’s recycling program will also be changed, according to one county official.
The county has been taking around 10,000 tons of trash each year, with about 7,000 tons being dumped at the Rock Creek station and 3,000 tons at the Fosterville station.
The official said details would be revealed during the Tuesday evening meeting, but the reason for the closing appears to be the dramatic loss in coal severance tax revenue.
The cost to operate the transfer stations and give free trash dumping costs the county approximately $500,000 a year in tipping fees, equipment and truck operations and repairs and that does not include the employees’ salaries. The employees salaries do not come from the coal severance tax revenue fund, but rather the county’s general revenue funding.
It has been reported that the total cost to operate the transfer stations is $1.3 million a year and that is less than the county collects in coal severance tax revenue.
No county employees are expected to lose their jobs, but will be placed on other county job duties.
In a recent article in the Coal Valley News, Boone County commissioner Mickey Brown said coal severance tax funding is one way local governments pay for things like water lines, senior centers and trash collection.
“All your coal counties are really hurting in southern West Virginia,” Brown said. “We’re all the same.”
Brown has served as a member of the county commission for 15 years and watched as his county’s budget grew in the early part of the decade because of an influx of tax dollars from the industry, both property taxes on mining facilities and equipment and severance taxes, or the 5 percent extraction tax companies pay on the value of the resource they mine.
As the price of coal declined over the past several years, Brown said so did the taxes Boone County collected. In 2012, he said his county budget was some $27 million. Today, it stands at about $14.6 million.
“Now, we’ve made cuts all along to where we’ve been watching what we’ve been spending,” he said.
And those cuts came to county services.
Boone County prioritizes projects that will bring public drinking water to its rural communities. Instead of paying for it themselves with severance tax dollars, today the county relies on federal and private grants to fund water line expansions. Those grants can be costly and time consuming for small governments to apply for and keep track of.
The amount of money the commission can grant to special projects is decreasing as well. Brown said a few years ago, the Boone County Board of Education came to the commission for help replacing the bleachers at all three county a high schools, a project that cost $500,000.
If that project came before the commission today, Brown said there is no way they could help.
“Before when somebody would come in with a request, it could be an extravagant request and we could do it,” he said, “but now we kind of made a policy that we aren’t going to do anymore grants. A thousand dollars maximum.”
Currently, two companies offer residential trash pick up in Boone County, as well as the City of Madison. Waste Management serves a high percentage of the county, while Republic serves parts of Boone County in the Morrisvale area. The average cost for residential trash pick up is approximately $15 per month.
The public is urged to attend the Boone County Commission meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015, starting at 5 p.m. to get additional details regarding trash pick up in Boone County, the closing of the transfer stations and other details and options regarding trash collection.
Fred Pace is an editor for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-369-1165, ext. 1661, in Madison; at 304-752-6950, ext. 1729 in Logan; by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or @fcpace62 on Twitter.