The Douglas County Solid Waste fee waiver program has been disposed of until a new formal process can be approved by the public, according to a press release from the Douglas County Board of Commissioners.
“That process was successful for over three and a half years. Requesters were told that they would have to apply every time they had a request, that a fee waiver was not always granted, and that they needed to have a contingency plan in place if waivers were denied or eliminated,” the press release said.
County Commissioner Chris Boice could not be reached for comment on Monday.
The fee system for the Douglas County Landfill and transfer stations was created in 2015. People were charged $3 per can and risked being fined up to $1,250 and charged with offensive littering for dumping the trash elsewhere. Shortly after, the solid waste director was delegated as the authority who would approve or deny fee waivers for public benefit.
The City of Myrtle Creek relied on the fee waiver for its annual cleanup program that’s been happening every April for more than 20 years, according to City Administrator Sean Negherbon.
“It’s a very good way to keep the city cleaned up and a lot of people look forward to it, plan for it each year,” Negherbon said. “This year, our waiver request was denied and I’m not sure exactly why.”
Negherbon said the city picks up items that are difficult to discard like old appliances, tires and furniture to help keep the city looking nice.
Every day of the week, the city crew follows a street sweeper route through and stops at the houses of people who registered to have stuff picked up. If it doesn’t qualify, they are told and not added to the list.
“Sometimes it varies a little bit if we can’t get rid of something,” Negherbon said. “We used to pick up almost anything. It’s amazing what we used to pick up. Some of the stuff back in the day was just hard for people to get rid of if they didn’t have a truck, now it’s a way to save those people a little bit of money.”
Negherbon said if the fee waiver program came back, he believes the city would try to reschedule the cleanup as soon as possible.
“It’s a shame but I understand there are changes going on,” Negherbon said. “Hopefully it can get resolved. It’s a nice service for citizens.”
The city’s public works director could not be reached for comment.
The Douglas County Commissioners removed the Solid Waste Director’s authority to approve or deny fee waivers. In January, the county took some criticism over granting a fee waiver to the Hanna family for the disposal of the Windmill Inn demolition debris, which would have cost the family almost $50,000.
“Recently, there has been a tremendous amount of public outcry related to fee waivers. During this time, there was little public support demonstrated for any aspect of the program. The sentiment seemed to be that everybody needs to pay their fair share,” the press release reads.
The commissioners also announced that the temporary storm damage wood debris fee waiver, which was implemented to help county residents clean up after the winter storm in February, would come to an end April 7.