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Cabin owners to commission: Garbage fee unfair

Scofield cabin owner Dean Denison listens as commissioners explain why there's a garbage collection fee even though people haul their own trash.

Sun Advocate Reporter

Nobody hauls Dean Denison's trash away from his Scofield cabin. Nevertheless, on his property tax notice, right there in black and white, is a $75 fee for garbage collection. Denison asked around and found out that other cabin owners were also perplexed by the new charge.

So they decided to ask the county commission what was going on. They got some - but not complete - satisfaction.

"I bring my garbage home. You charge me $75," he told commissioners Wednesday. "I feel like I went to a free movie and then got charged for leaving the building." He went on to say that he and others like him don't use the dumpsters at the state park or elsewhere in the area because of the "birds, flies, odors and nails" that surround them.

Basically, he and others thought the whole arrangement was unfair because campers, boaters and tourists use the dumpsters but don't get charged. It's those who don't use them have to pay.

Denison and several others in the audience also said they hadn't seen or heard anything about the fee until it showed up on the tax notices.

However, Commissioner Mike Milovich replied that there were public notices and public hearings on the matter two years ago. The county had been looking for a way to cover the cost of hauling dumpsters from the Scofield area to the ECDC landfill and then paying the tipping fee of $22 a ton at the landfill, he explained.

For years, the population at Scofield and surrounding areas was not generating much garbage, he continued. But with growth came more trash. Since Scofield cabins weren't paying the cost, it meant that ratepayers in other parts of the county had to subsidize them. That was not small change: $36,000 according to Milovich.

To end that subsidy, the commission came up with the formula of adding up the cost of dumpster hauling and tipping, then dividing by the number of homes and cabins that hypothetically would use the dumpsters. That produced the $75 figure.

As for putting the tab on the tax notice, the commissioner said that was "the most expeditious and economic way of doing it." Paying for extra stationery and postage to send the fee notice out separately would add to the cost.

Milovich and Commissioner John Jones said they'd agree to revisit the fee to see if it is still accurate, but not to rescind it.

"We're not a brick wall. What's the cure?" Jones said, asking for suggestions on what to do to offset the cost. One idea was that the Division of Parks and Recreation should participate in the fees. Jones said the commission would look into that.

Cabin owner Frank Marrelli wondered why there was any fee at all, considering that all the owners already pay property tax. "I'm giving $861 a year (on county tax) but get nothing from the county," he declared.

Milovich countered that the county provides services like ambulance and sheriff, and noted that during the range fire two years ago emergency services responded in force to protect property.

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