Solid Waste Programs Fee Introduction

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Updated June 2017

Introduction to the Orange County Solid Waste Programs Fee (SWPF).
Starting in the tax year 2015, each improved property in Orange County will be assessed an annual Solid Waste Programs Fee (SWPF) to fund recycling, waste management, and waste reduction services offered by the County.  The fee will be includedin the Orange County property tax bill, and is levied by the Orange County Tax Office. This annual single fee for FY 2017-18 is $128. The fee is levied on each habitable residence, apartment, business or non-profit and funds all the County operated recycling programs next year as well as about one-third of convenience center costs. This fee is charged to all improved properties in all Orange County jurisdictions, including that part of the Town of Chapel Hill within Durham County.

The Board of Orange County Commissioners along with its Town partners in the Solid Waste Advisory Group (SWAG) selected this financing mechanism for long term, sustainable, predictable provision of solid waste services. It was approved by all four governmental bodies in April 2015.

All previous fees will be eliminated including the ‘basic fee’, the convenience center fee, urban curbside, rural curbside and multifamily fee. 

What services does the SWPF pay for?
The SWPF will fund the direct and indirect costs of public recycling efforts in Orange County including curbside, multifamily, commercial recycling, drop-off sites, electronics recycling, hazardous waste collections, education and outreach, enforcement and environmental support. The SWPF will also fund recycling and processing services including mattress recycling, yard waste processing, clean wood waste processing, large appliance and scrap tire management, cardboard and scrap metal recycling.

The fee also supports approximately 35% of the costs of operating Solid Waste Convenience Centers with the remainder coming from the General Fund.  

While participation in these programs is voluntary, the fee is assessed to all improved properties, including tax-exempt properties, whether the service used or not. Orange County encourages all residents and businesses to take full advantage of the various recycling, waste management, and waste reduction services available to them.

If you have questions about programs provided by the Orange County Solid Waste Management Department, please call us at 919-968-2788 or email:

Who pays the SWPF?
All owners of improved property in Orange County must pay the SWPF.  If a property has multiple units such as an apartment complex or shopping center, each individual unit, or each “front door”, is assessed a Solid Waste Programs Fee.  

Owners of the parcel of land on which there are single-wide mobile homes or leaseholds on which there are double-wide homes or other habitable structures, will be assessed the SWPF for all units on their property eligible to receive service. The SWPF will be assessed to the real property owner for each habitable unit on that property.

There are approximately 6,800 rural households throughout the County that do not currently receive curbside recycling, but are part of the Rural Curbside Expansion area.  The SWPF will fund the planned expansion of curbside recycling those households in July of 2016. Those households will pay the same SWPF as all other improved properties, even prior to receiving curbside recycling service.

All public buildings such as schools, local government, state government, and OWASA pay the fee.

Solid Waste Programs Fee Assistance Programs
If you have a limited income, there is a fund created by the Board of County Commissioners to assist you. To qualify, citizens must complete an application and provide the financial documentation required.  If you are a property owner who receives the Homestead exemption for seniors, you are eligible for relief from the SWPF.  Contact the Orange County Tax Office at (919) 245-2100 press #2 or email regarding the Homestead exemption or regarding receiving financial assistance to pay the SWPF.  Visit the Tax Office Solid Waste Fee Assistance page  for the assistance form and other information regarding the SWPF.

Properties owned and operated by UNC, which also receive recycling services from UNC, are exempt from paying the SWPF.

What if I believe the fee is inaccurately assessed and wish to appeal?
When you receive your 2017 tax bill, you may feel that the fee has not been accurately assessed for your property(s).  Orange County has developed a formal SWPF appeals process for this type of situation. The appeal form is located here.  You can return the form by email or by mail:
Orange County Tax Office
PO Box 8181 Hillsborough NC 27278
Attn: Solid Waste Programs Fee Appeal.

Follow the instructions on the form, sign and submit the form by mail or fax to:

Orange County Solid Waste Management
PO Box 17177
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Attn: Director
Fax 919-932-2900

A review of the appeal will then be conducted by County Solid Waste staff utilizing information provided by County Land Records, the County Assessor’s Office and Solid Waste Management. Appellants will receive written notification of the outcome of their appeal.