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County debates first tipping fee increase

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

Officials are looking into increasing the tipping fee at Johnson County Transfer Station, 378 Industrial Park Road in Mountain City also referred to as the local dump.The increase would be the first since the facility opened 27 years ago. Without raising the fee, County Mayor Mike Taylor reports this would have to lead to a property tax increase.

The facility has seen a lot of use since it opened back in 1994. According to Taylor, the facility averaged around 25 tons of trash per day but doubled to about 50 tons per day in recent years. He also reports the number increased by approximately 30 percent since COVID-19 hit.

“We’ve gotten to the point where we’re going to have to do some improvements down there to improve our efficiencies and increase our capacity,” Taylor informed the commissioners. “I presented that to you. We’re going to use some American Recovery Funds (ARF) to pay for that. In the process, we’re probably going to need a new employee down there.”

The facility is also considering no longer taking tires. The recycling prices reportedly jumped from around $80 per ton to approximately $180 per ton, which Taylor estimates costs about $40,000 per year. The tire contract helping the Transfer Station expired in July 2021, which accounts for the significant increase.

The current prices for dumping that the county pays will likely go up as well, according to Taylor. The Johnson County Transfer Station has a contract with a landfill in Bristol, Tennessee, that expires in two years. Officials expect prices to increase.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but I can almost guarantee you that you are not going to be dumping trash at $17.67 two years from now,” Taylor explained. “That’s going up too.”

Commissioner Jimmy Lowe brought up the concern that the increase might drive business from the Transfer Station. He reports that the current fee, $52 per ton, is comparable to surrounding areas. Taylor acknowledged the price difference but maintained that it most likely should not cause an issue and is needed because of the increased cost to the county.

The Johnson County Transfer Station is undergoing a series of updates to improve the public’s experience and increase capacity, covered through ARF. To help decrease lines at the scales and let those with just a few bags move through more quickly, officials are developing an area for small-scale dumping. Additional plans include; refurbishing the building, moving the scale house closer to the scales, and building an additional shed on site.

At the time of this article, the decision was tabled for the second month in a row. The Budget Committee will look over the issue at its next meeting. For more information on the Johnson County government, visit