Tuesday, 04 May 2021 21:49

Richmond County to charge fee for out-of-state tire disposal

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Public Works Director Jerry Austin explains to commissioners the reasoning for charging a $2 per tire fee for out-of-state tires at Tuesday's meeting. Public Works Director Jerry Austin explains to commissioners the reasoning for charging a $2 per tire fee for out-of-state tires at Tuesday's meeting. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — People disposing of tires from out of state will now have to pay a fee.

The Richmond County Board of Commissioners approved a proposal Tuesday to charge $2 per tire if it comes from outside North Carolina.

Public Works Director Jerry Austin said the county is required to accept all in-state tires.

“We’ve recently found out that there’s locals that bring trailer loads of tires in here from different states and go through and get used tires for sale and then try to bring the rest of them for us to dispose at our cost,” Austin told commissioners.

When asked how to tell tires were from out of state, Austin replied that the program relies on an honor system.

“They have to certify that those tires came from a facility here in Richmond County,” Austin said. “But, we actually did a little investigating and caught a few bringing tires in from South Carolina and a truckload in from Alabama … we just have to catch them.”

According to Austin, those bringing tires for disposal have to fill out a form stating where the tires came from and how many there are, though he admitted there’s not really any way to verify unless there’s an investigation.

The fee would also apply to tires manufactured prior to 1994, before the inception of the scrap tires program.

Austin reiterated that the process would not change for Richmond County residents.

“I’m just trying to find a way to … give them an option for them to dispose of them here versus throwing them in the woods or having them haul an hour and a half away and pay twice as much money to get rid of them,” Austin said.

Commissioner Rick Watkins brought up the solid waste statistics included in County Manager Bryan Land’s monthly report, which includes tires illegally dumped.

“Is it your feeling that a lot of these tires are being dumped by people who are not citizens of Richmond County?” Watkins asked.

Austin replied that his gut feeling is that those tires are thrown out by locals.

Commissioner Don Bryant then asked if the Public Works Department would put up signs to let people know that tires should be local.

“That’s understood,” Austin said. “You’d have to put a sign practically everywhere, Commissioner Bryant, if we did that.”

Austin added that most people disposing of tires bring in the proper paperwork — “There’s just a few rouges out there that we want to reel in a little bit.”

Earlier in the meeting, commissioners approved text amendments to the county’s zoning ordinance, following a public hearing with no input.

Planning Director Tracy Parris said the changes were mandated by state law aimed at making the language in municipal ordinances uniform throughout the state.

All of the changes, Parris added, relate to function, process and terminology. One revision, for example, changes the term “conditional use permit” to “special use permit.”

There are no changes to land-development regulations, uses allowed in zoning areas, setback requirements, telecommunication or buffering or lighting requirements.

County Tax Administrator Vagas Jackson was given approval to advertise tax liens in the local print newspaper next month.

The board also approved several proclamations for the month of May recognizing: Older Americans Month; Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police Week; Memorial Day; and World Multiple Sclerosis Day.

Watkins pointed out that this is also Teacher Appreciation Week. He and Commissioner Toni Maples are both longtime educators.

During his report, Land said the county is still waiting on guidance regarding a $900,000 community development block grant to assist residents struggling to pay utilities, rent and mortgage payments amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Land said representatives with the N.C. Department of Commerce said there were two people administering 32 similar grants statewide.

Around 900 families in the county will be eligible for up to $1,000 through the grant, according to Land.

Once the county gets the green light, Land added, residents will be able to apply for the funds.

Commissioners will hold a budget work session with department heads starting at 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 19 at the Richmond County Airport.