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Citizen questions fairness of garbage law

Darrel Russon tells commission why he thinks the county's garbage fees are unfair for those who don't produce much trash.

Sun Advocate Reporter

"We produce way too much trash. It's gotten to where we can't even take a drink of water without producing trash."

So said Darrel Russon, a Carbon County citizen who lives on Coal Creek Road outside of Wellington. He was, as the saying goes, "seeking redress of grievances" at the county commission meeting last Wednesday.

Russon's problem is that he takes months - sometimes four months - to fill one of those big plastic garbage cans. However, he has to pay the same $10.90 every month as the people whose cans are filled to the brim every week. So he winds up paying close to $44 per visit from the garbage truck while everyone else pays less than $3.

That disparity seems to him like a disincentive for recycling or reducing the amount of trash. People like him, who have less need for garbage collection, wind up paying proportionately more.

Not only that, but when his can gets full enough to warrant a collection, he either has to drag it three-tenths of mile to the paved road or muscle it into his pickup to drive it there.

He said he knows that the county ordinance mandating all citizens to have their garbage collected is well-meaning in that it is supposed to protect the "public health and well-being." In his case, though, "It's putting my health and safety at risk."

So why can't the county revise the ordinance to give people like him the option to take their trash to the dump themselves?

"Maybe we should all take some lessons from you," commented Commissioner Mike Milovich, complimenting Russon's low-trash output level. Then the commissioner went on to explain the situation.

The public option on trash hauling was the way things used to be, and it didn't work. People in the county often found it more convenient to simply throw garbage where they thought it wouldn't be seen. "We had to prevent arbitrary dumping in the washes," Milovich said.

As far as collection rates go, the flat rate is in place simply because "we have no way of keeping track of who produces what," he explained.

Milovich then asked Russon why he didn't just leave the garbage can out by the road and take the trash out little by little when he left his house. Russon replied the pickup point is not on his property so he didn't want to park the can there permanently.

Commissioner Bill Krompel pointed out that the monthly garbage bill goes for more than collection. It keeps the landfill open seven days a week and there is no fee.

The commissioners also explained that the county landfill is filling up and ordinary household refuse now has to go to the ECDC landfill. Household trash would have to be hauled away in big dumpsters because the county facility cannot handle it any more. ECDC does not accept deliveries from individuals, so the option of driving out to East Carbon is not open.

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