Commissioners feel it encourages recycling

Craven County commissioners decided to retain a system of garbage stickers for household trash as opposed to the idea of rollout containers for curbside pickup.

The consensus came during a Monday work session on several county topics.

“We looked at it in two different ways,” said County Manager Jack Veit. “One was maintaining the sticker program and the other was a cart at everyone’s home, which is what your tradition like New Bern and Havelock provide. You pay a monthly fee, usually on a utility bill. For us, we don’t have a utility bill, so it would be the tax bill.”

Veit said he was in need of a decision, since a decision to go with the cart system would require three to four months to implement, with a new budget year looming at the beginning of July.

Currently, the county provides contract roadside trash pickup each week for any trash cans that are marked with stickers for each bag of garbage.

The stickers cost $2.25, a price that decreased by 25 cents after 2012.

However, with increased costs involved in the program, the sticker price is likely to increase to $2.75, although that awaits a formal vote of the board.

Anyone who purchases stickers, available at outlets such as grocery and convenience stores, can bag their household garbage and drop it off at any number of convenience stations around the county.

Commissioner Steve Tyson said the consensus to stay with the current system was because it works well.

“We felt like if it is not broken, don’t change it,” he said. “We felt in general that having the stickers encourages people to recycle.”

By recycling, residents can reduce the amount of trash they discard, thus reducing their need to purchase multiple trash stickers each week. In essence, recycling can save residents money. Having a cart system without costs per bag might hinder recycling, he said.

The county has recycling pickup, with containers provided. The service is paid separately from trash pickup and is added to residents’ tax bills.

Recycling is also available at convenience stations for free, along with disposal of yard materials and other items, including construction debris. One of those sites is located off U.S. 70 just west of the Tucker Creek subdivision.

Tyson said that the trash business is not a money-maker for the county.

“That is just part of our budget,” Tyson said. “There is no revenue.”

Of the current $2.25 for a sticker, 10 cents goes to the vendors who sell them, with $1.89 going to the trash pickup contractors. The remaining money goes toward maintenance of the convenience stations, which cost the county about $700,000 annually to maintain.

He said those costs are slated to go up with a new contract for pickup set to be renewed for the new fiscal year, which begins in July.

The county put out bids on the roadside pickup to three large companies, with just two returned.

Tyson said that in 2012, the contractor’s bid to provide pickup service was low enough that commissioners in turn lowered the price of the stickers.

“We wanted to pass on the savings,” Tyson said.

Tyson said the recycling issue is important to keep separate from trash and apparently popular, with the county ranking eighth in the state in citizen participation.

“To me, that is evidence that we are doing something that would encourage recycling,” he said.