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Commercial trash fees increase
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Other action

Also during its meeting Thursday, the Dawson County commission approved the following:

• An amendment to the county's fire separation ordinance

• A proclamation honoring the Dawson County High School varsity girls basketball team, which finished second in state

• Ratification of the fiscal year 2014 transit grant application

• A fuel card provider contract with Fuel Express

• A request to file a statement of claim against Spectrum Management, Comfort Inn, in Magistrate Court for delinquent taxes

• Moving forward with the future land use plan update process

• A revised inmate food service contract with Correctional Resource

• Library board agreement with Georgia Communities Utilities Group Inc.

Note: All votes were 3-0 unless otherwise listed. Commissioner Jimmy Hamby was absent.

Commercial trash haulers can expect to pay more at the Dawson County Transfer Station.

In a 3-0 vote Thursday, the county commission agreed to raise the rate for commercial dumping to $35 per ton. Commissioner Jimmy Hamby was absent.

Under the previous setup, commercial operators were charged based on truck size or type rather than weight.

County engineer Corey Gutherie said the new drive-on scales installed in February at the Burt Creek Road transfer station allow Dawson to keep up with industry standards and charge by the ton.

Doing so has the potential to generate more than $50,000 annually, he said.

With the new rates, the cost to dump a 9-ton truckload of garbage would be $315, instead of the $75 under the old fee schedule.

Gutherie said a significant increase in commercial waste over the last several years led to the county paying higher tipping fees at Eagle Point Landfill in neighboring Forsyth County.

"In 2012, we paid out more tipping fees than we collected," he said.

Commissioners said they have known for some time the county's commercial dumping rates were lower than private waste disposal businesses in the area.

A report by Gutherie showed Dawson County's previous commercial tipping fees below each of the surrounding counties, as well as lower than 400 Waste on Lumpkin Campground Road and Eagle Point.

"There's no question we're too low. The question is what is the appropriate number to charge," said Commission Chair Mike Berg.

Andy Wallace of 400 Waste said he was concerned the commission was considering a plan to change their commercial tipping fees and cautioned the county against competing with his business.

"I've had the same rates for years and years and only went up one time," said Wallace, who charges $37.50 per ton. "I'm providing a service for that side of town."

Wallace said he does offer discounts to a number of commercial trash haulers but declined to divulge that rate.

The county opened the transfer station with the intent to give residents a central location to drop off household trash. However, Gutherie said the collection of commercial waste has outpaced domestic trash in recent years.

Motions were made by Commissioner Gary Pichon to set the per ton fee at $32 and by Commissioner Julie Hughes Nix at $37.50. Both failed for lack of a second.

Commissioner James Swafford made final motion to set the commercial fee at $35 per ton.

With the vote, the commission also set the price to drop off household trash at .50 cents per plastic bag up to 50 gallons. Material that's not bagged will be charged the $35-per-ton commercial rate.

The fees are waived for county government entities.