County ups fees on dumping, loose pets

WINNSBORO – Fairfield County is one vote away from imposing higher fees for some animal control and dumping services.

But as county officials note, the extra charges are user fees, meaning only people using those services will pay more money.

At Monday night’s meeting, council members voted unanimously on second reading of the revised fee schedule, which requires a third reading to become law.

County Administrator Jason Taylor said the fees are part of a broader effort to streamline the county’s fee system for simplicity.

“We have tried to restructure how we do fees in general as far as the way they’re included in our budget,” Taylor said. “It also makes it easier to understand if they’re all in one place.”

As it relates to animal control and dumping services fees, Taylor noted they were strictly user fees to offset costs of providing county services.

“They’re not blanket fees, they’re not fees charged to everyone,” he said. “They’re only fees charged to those who use those services.”

According to the proposed ordinance, animal owners would be assessed $25 anytime Fairfield County Animal Control is called to lasso their loose pet. Revenues collected would cover the cost of animal control officer response, the ordinance states.

Commercial and non-residential haulers are also targeted in the second fee structure.

Taylor said there’s been an uptick in commercial haulers using the county’s wood chipping facility, prompting the new fee.

“We have a lot of commercial people who are coming in dumping. We think they should pay,” he said. “They are making money off the service that we provide, so it’s fair for them to have to pay a fee.”

Fees proposed in the ordinance use the following structure:

  • Permit fee | $15 (required annually),
  • Single axle truck load | $20 per load,
  • Dump truck or single axle truck with trailer | $30 per load,
  • Tandem dump truck or larger | $40 per load.

Revenues from the dumping fee “shall be used for the cost associated with the disposal of some of the solid waste collected at its waste collection sites in Fairfield County,” according to the ordinance.

Only one person spoke during a public hearing that preceded the vote.

Randy Bright of Ridgeway pressed council members to provide specifics of the fee, as well as the justification for it.

“Anytime you hear new fees, new taxes, you get a little leery and you become very inquisitive because that impacts our lives as much as anything when the government or anybody takes money away from us,” Bright said. “Who does that impact the most? Those who can afford it the least, the lower income.”

Councilman Cornelius Robinson asked about recreation fees.

Though not part of the ordinance approved Monday night, Robinson said the recreation rental fee deserves a second look.

“My concern is … you have some citizens who want to utilize recreation for actual recreation,” he said. “Some are concerned the fee isn’t high enough due to tying up the ability to play basketball.”

Council Chairman Billy Smith said he thought the $25 per hour fee was fair.

“I wouldn’t disagree with the assessment personally,” Smith said.

Robinson said he’d still like to revisit recreation rental fees.

“I know we still are in the beginning stages of revamping our [recreation] department, which is better than it was, I would say,” Robinson said. “It’s just something we should think about down the road.”

In related business, the council approved a companion ordinance that amends the budget and authorizes the supplemental appropriation of funds.

Taylor said the ordinance essentially adds the loose animal and wood chipping fees into the budget as revenues and expenditures. That ordinance also passed unanimously.