The Orange County Solid Waste Convenience Center Fee (CC Fee)
The CC Fee was established to partially finance improvements and operational costs of the County’s solid waste convenience center system. At the current level, revenue from the fee will finance about 23% of the overall FY 2012-13 Sanitation Division Budget and provide a predictable, equitable, sustainable source of funding for operating and improving the convenience centers. The remainder of the Sanitation Division budget is funded from a subsidy from landfill and recycling revenues and the County’s general fund, which is primarily financed by property taxes. The County Schools pays the Sanitation Division a small fee for waste collection and disposal services. After the landfill closes June 30, 2013, no subsidy will be available from the landfill revenue source.
The County established a system of five (5) staffed solid waste convenience centers in 1993 as a means primarily for residents of unincorporated Orange County to have safe, clean, organized and staffed locations to dispose of their household waste. Over nineteen years, the convenience center system has evolved from a simple system of rural waste collection sites to a more comprehensive system which includes eighteen categories of recyclable items and waste along with salvage sheds for recovery or reusable items. The centers receive over 516,000 visits per year and manage over 11,000 tons of materials. They are a popular and important core county service.
The CC Fee was established as part of the FY 2011-12 budget as a means of placing the convenience centers on a firmer financial footing. The centers will now be partly funded by the users in a manner based on their estimated proportional use level. Rural single family residences are the most likely users of the sites. They pay $20 per year. Urban single family households, the second most likely users, pay $10 per year. Apartments, being the least likely users, pay $2 per year towards funding the convenience centers.
The current fee structure will generate approximately $587,000 that will fund 23% of the FY 2012-13 Sanitation Division budget. Incorporating a predictable fee into the funding enables the County to expand and stabilize hours of operation and to capitalize improvements that will make the centers more efficient, safer and easier to use, especially for the aging population. The first improvements begin at the Walnut Grove Church Road Convenience Center in September 2012.
Only County residents are eligible to use the convenience centers, not businesses, not for profits or other non-residential entities. Therefore, only improved residential properties in Orange County receive a CC fee; unlike the 3-R Fee for recycling that is charged to all improved properties in the County, including residential, commercial and non-profits. Owners of public housing or individual residences owned by government entities will be required to pay the fee as their occupants are eligible to use the convenience centers. Almost all UNC-owned properties are exempt from all these fees because UNC has its own recycling and waste collection programs. A few houses within the Town of Chapel Hill owned by UNC are eligible to use the centers as they are occupied and used as residences and are not provided UNC waste services. They receive a CC fee.
The list of questions below should help explain the CC Fee. If you have further questions about the CC fee or the 3-R Fee, call the Revenue Collection office at 919-245-2725 x 2 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions about the centers, solid waste or recycling in Orange County, call the Solid Waste Management Department at 919-968-2788 or email email@example.com
- Introduction to the CC Fee and Convenience Center Overview
- Must I pay the CC Fee even if I don't use the solid waste convenience centers?
- What does the CC Fee pay for?
- Why is the CC Fee necessary?
- What is the fee for each sector of the county?
- How is the cost of the various CC Fees determined?
- How does the County determine which CC Fees to assess to my property?
- What if I cannot afford to pay the CC Fee?
- What if I believe the fee is inaccurately assessed to my property?
- Is the CC Fee fair and equitable?
- Who does not have to pay the CC fee?
- How do I use the solid waste convenience centers if I have never done so?
- By what authority does Orange County charge the CC Fee?
The Orange County Solid Waste Management Department Sanitation Division is responsible for operating and maintaining five (5) staffed solid waste convenience centers throughout the unincorporated parts of the County as well as collecting waste from County schools and County government buildings. The convenience centers are available to all residents of Orange County and those residents of that part of the Town of Chapel Hill located in Durham County. The Centers have been in operation since 1993 as a County-funded service. The Sanitation Division is now part of the Solid Waste Management Department, which is operated as an enterprise fund, but the County’s General Fund historically provided 100% of funding for the convenience center operation and capitalization. The remainder of the Solid Waste Management Department including Recycling and the Landfill is funded from landfill tipping fees, the 3-R recycling fee and a variety of other revenue sources including the sale of recycled materials, mulch and compost.
The annual budget for the Sanitation Division for Fiscal Year 2012-2013 is $2,590,307 for collection and disposal of solid waste from Orange County local government, public school facilities and operation of the Solid Waste Convenience Centers. The convenience center (CC) fee that now funds approximately 23% of the Sanitation budget is a step towards more fully integrating the Sanitation Division into the enterprise fund and reducing reliance on the General Fund. The FY 12-13 Sanitation Division budget is largely by appropriations from the General Fund with some revenue from schools’ waste collection, subsidies from the landfill and recycling and the projected contribution of about $587,000 from the CC fee.
The CC Fee is a multi-part fee that is assessed annually and billed on the residential property tax bill. The separate CC fee is assessed to all properties eligible to use the convenience centers: Single family homes (generally including those up to five dwelling units) in the unincorporated area are $20/dwelling unit/year; single-family homes (including those with up to five dwelling units) in the incorporated Town limits of each of the three Towns are $10/dwelling unit/year and multifamily units are $2/dwelling unit/year. A property with multiple units will be assessed one (1) fee for each unit. All improved residential properties in Orange County including apartments, condominiums and mobile homes are subject to the CC fee. Properties with mixed uses are assessed the fee for the residential units only. None of the commercial entities on mixed use properties will receive a CC fee nor are they be permitted to use the Solid Waste Convenience Centers. The owner of each property eligible for using the convenience center sites is assessed for the CC fee regardless of whether the occupants choose to use the centers.
Yes. All owners of improved residential property in Orange County must pay the CC Fee. While use is voluntary, the fee is assessed to all eligible properties whether they use the centers or not. Orange County encourages all residents to take full advantage of the various waste disposals, recycling and reuse services available to them at the centers.
The CC fee helps fund operations, expansion of hours and modernization improvements planned for the five (5) County-owned and operated solid waste convenience centers throughout unincorporated Orange County, beginning with the Walnut Grove Church Road Center in FY 2012-13. The CC Fee is enabling the County to shift some of the funding of the convenience centers from the General Fund, which is derived primarily from property taxes, to partial support by a dedicated source of funds, the more stable and predictable user fee.
The cost of operating convenience centers includes on-site staffing, debt service, site leases, utilities, maintenance, waste receptacles, service vehicles, waste hauling expenses, disposal tipping fees and various ancillary services such as recycling of clean wood, clean metal, scrap tires, yard waste, appliances, salvage shed maintenance etc. Costs of the recycling at the convenience centers for paper, cans, bottles, rigid plastics, batteries, motor oil antifreeze and electronics are borne by the recycling division budget.
Future design and rebuilding of the centers to improve efficiency ease of use, and safety by using compactors, two-tiered dumping, paving the gravel- covered surfaces, improving lighting and increasing recycling opportunities are also partly paid from the CC Fee.
The CC Fee was enacted in June 2011 by the Orange County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) to help finance Orange County's solid waste convenience centers. The County begins assessing the CC Fee with the 2011 tax bill. Each improved residential property in Orange County receives a CC Fee to partially pay for the operation and planned improvements to the Solid Waste Convenience Centers.
This new method of financing was necessary to provide an alternative stable, predictable funding source that was not entirely reliant on the General Fund for operating and improving the convenience centers. In recent past years, fiscal pressure on the General Fund forced the County to cut operating hours at the centers and delay improvements that will enhance safety, increase efficiency and create better environmental conditions. The cuts in hours inconvenienced and confused the public. The CC fee enabled expansion of hours and initiation of improvements.
The County's General Fund can no longer absorb all the costs of the solid waste system, yet citizens continue to seek expanded hours and services and express concern about cleanliness and congestion. This limitation had also inhibited the County from effectively undertaking the needed longer term efficiency and safety improvements. Improvements will start with the Walnut Grove Church Road Center in September 2012.
There is a need to modernize and improve material hauling efficiencies, hours of operation, citizen material handling safety and convenience, site access, traffic flow, lighting and paving as well as expand the sites to accommodate new recycling and waste reduction services. The County anticipates that the residents will utilize the centers based on a variety of factors including the increased costs of hauling, the demand from residents for more waste reduction and recycling services, and the emerging markets for various recyclables. More importantly, with the Orange County landfill scheduled to close in June 2013, hauling waste materials longer distances will require more efficient techniques. As customers’ physical needs change with the County’s aging population the convenience Centers will need to be adapted to continue to provide important services to the community.
Various other funding mechanisms for the centers that were considered, evaluated and rejected included:
- pay-by-the bag, or by-the-truck-load, or by-the-individual per bulky item,
- a flat rather than a tiered county-wide convenience center fee,
- establishment of a separate solid waste tax district,
- use of an annual solid waste fee levied on only households in the unincorporated areas covering all convenience center costs and limiting center use to only those households (or others who purchase a permit)
CCR Unincorporated Area Convenience Center Fee.
The CCR Fee covers a portion of the costs of operating the five (5) County Solid Waste Convenience Centers. It is higher than the fee in the urban areas because most usage of the convenience centers is by households in the unincorporated areas where there is no publicly provided waste collection and recycling services are limited.
$20 per unit per year
CCU Incorporated areas Convenience Center Fee
CCU Fee covers a proportional cost of operating the County Solid Waste Convenience Centers. It is lower than the fee charged to those in the unincorporated areas because user surveys taken at convenience centers have shown that urban households have a lower rate of use by urban households, which have tax-supported publicly provided waste collection. Thus they are less likely to have a need to use the centers routinely.
$10 per unit per year
CCM Multi-family Unit Convenience Center Fee
The CCM Fee covers a small portion of the costs of operating the County Solid Waste Convenience Centers. It is small because evidence shows that apartment dwellers rarely use the convenience centers and those mobile home parks with their own dumpster service also use the centers very little.
$2 per unit per year
As a part of preparing the annual budget for the Sanitation Division, the full cost of operating and potential improvements to the various centers is analyzed. The full annual cost of services, in addition to amortized capital costs of projected improvements at the centers, is considered based on detailed planning level estimates of improvements. The costs are then divided by the number of units eligible to receive the service and proportioned based on varying use levels by different categories (sectors) of users.
Those likely to use the sites more frequently are billed at a higher level and those less likely billed less (see Question 5 above). A set of fees is then calculated that covers some of the costs of operating and improving the centers. The fees increased from 2011-12 to cover a greater portion of that overall operating expense. The remaining portion continues to be covered by the General Fund and additional subsidies from landfill and recycling revenues.
The current rate of the CC fees enables both expanded hours of operation and ability to begin the first series of site improvements.
The dollar value of the CC Fee as currently levied is directly tied to the overall cost of providing the Convenience Center services but covers only about 23% of those costs. The remainder of the costs related to managing recyclables and waste at the centers is financed from the General Fund, subsidies from landfill and recycling revenues and some fees for services for school waste collection and disposal, etc.
As noted in the above fee schedule table in Question 5, all improved residential properties in Orange County are subject to the CC Fee. Every improved residential property is assessed with a CC fee, the Rural CCR, Urban CCU Fee or the Multifamily CCM Fee. A single-family residential entity in the unincorporated area receives a $20 per year fee. In the incorporated areas, a $10 fee per single family unit is applied and a $2 fee for each multifamily unit. Mobile homes in mobile home parks in incorporated areas receive a $10 CCU urban fee. Mobile homes in parks in the unincorporated areas without dumpsters also receive a $10 fee per unit. Those in mobile home parks in the unincorporated area with dumpsters are charged $2 per unit.
Owners of the parcel of land on which there are single-wide mobile homes on foundations with axles removed or leaseholds on which there are double-wide homes or other habitable structures will be assessed the convenience center fee for the area where they are located. In unincorporated areas it is $20 per year and in the incorporated Towns $10.
Commercial/other non-residential/tax-exempt properties are presently not subject to the fees and not eligible to use the convenience centers. If your non-residential property is assessed a CC Fee, you should alert the Solid Waste Management Department through its appeals process and the fee will be rescinded. Click here for the appeals form.
The Board of County Commissioners, in recognizing that there are citizens with limited income, has created a fund to assist those citizens. To qualify for assistance, the citizen must complete an application and provide financial documentation required. The current maximum annual income level to qualify is $27,100 per household, subject to change. If you wish to discuss the possibility of receiving assistance to pay the CC Fee you are urged to contact the Orange County Revenue Department at (919) 245-2725 ext.2 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Look on the County's web site for the payment assistance program form, which will be posted there: http://www.orangecountync.gov/revenue.
The County has a formal appeals process (3-R Fee and CC Fee share a single appeals form). The first step is to complete an appeals form.
An appeals form may be obtained from the Revenue Collection Office at 919-245-2725 Ext. 3 or by mail:
Orange County Revenue Collection Office
P. O. Box 818
Hillsborough, NC 27278
Attn: CC Fee Appeal.
Follow the instructions on the form, sign and submit the form (paper original copy only) by mail to:
Orange County Solid Waste Management
P. O. Box 17177 Chapel Hill 27516
A review of the appeal will then be conducted by Solid Waste staff utilizing information provided by the County Land Records office, the County Assessor’s Office and Solid Waste Management office. Appellants will receive written notification of the outcome of their appeal.
When contemplating how to fund convenience center operations and improvements, our County’s leaders studied a variety of ways to generate revenue. They selected the present CC Fee structure because it allowed the County to create a funding mechanism that was stable and predictable, with a tiered structure that acknowledged the usage differences by various sectors of the community – rural, urban and multifamily. This approach allowed the County to target the fee to the eligible users and also allowed for the value of the assessment to any one property to more closely approximate the cost of service utilized than if the same level of fee were applied to all properties.
The varying CC fee billed to Multifamily, Rural, and Urban residences pays for part of the cost of operating the centers and capitalizing improvements. The annual unit cost of the fee assessment of $20 per year for each single family home in unincorporated areas,$10 per year for single family in town limits and $2 per apartment unit, is about 23% of the cost of the services provided. The remainder is covered by the landfill tipping fees, recycling revenues and the General Fund which is derived mostly from property taxes with some sales taxes. The CC fee is equitable among the various classes of users because users in a given sector are likely to use the convenience centers at a similar frequency/level and are thus assessed the same fee.
While other approaches such as charging on-site for the amount and types of waste generated by each user might be more equitable, an annual fee was judged to be less complex and simpler to administer; it helps avoids the need to handle cash at the convenience centers and eliminates any potential dispute about the nature of the waste coming in e.g. if a couch is judged by one site attendant to be reusable and therefore goes to the salvage shed at no charge while another attendant might determine that couch to be waste which would have a disposal cost as a bulky item.
No single financing mechanism is perfectly equitable, however when creating the CC fee, Orange County sought to create a reasonable and fair system to capture revenue to support public waste disposal and recycling sites and to have the level of assessment closely approximate the value of services to each user sector.
In general non-residential improved properties in Orange Country are not subject to the CC Fee. All habitable residential properties are, with two exceptions: University of North Carolina properties that are served by the UNC Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling (a separate publicly funded recycling program servicing UNC-Chapel Hill Facilities); and those improved structures on a residential parcel that do not have the capability to generate recyclable wastes (e.g. a separate storage building that is listed as an improved property, but that in and of itself does not generate waste).
Additionally, those property owners who qualify for the 3-R Fee payment assistance program (see FAQ # 8) may also receive public assistance in paying the CC Fee.
Every household in the County may use the centers to dispose or recycle its own waste generated at the residence. No other waste generators may use them. If you own rental property, the renter or tenant may bring waste from that residence to the convenience center. You as the owner may not bring waste from the rental property as that is then considered commercial waste; you must take that waste to the landfill or hire a private hauler to do so. If you live outside Orange County, even if you own rental residential property within the County, you may not use the centers.
Centers are available only during their regular operating hours; do not leave materials when centers are not open. You may be subject to penalties for illegal dumping or littering if you do so. Loads transported in open vehicles should be properly tarped or otherwise secured.
Any resident of Orange County may use the convenience centers, regardless of residence type or location. Do make sure to have proof of residency in case you are asked by a Center Operator. Center operators have the right to refuse service to anyone who cannot produce proof of residency. If you live at a multifamily property you may use the Convenience Centers.
NCGS § 153A-102 (Commissioners to set fees) enables Counties to charge fees for services permitted or required by law. The Convenience Center Fee (CC Fee) is used to finance part of the costs of operating and improving the solid waste convenience centers in Orange County. It is applied to all residential properties, whether those properties use County facilities for disposal or not. Those eligible to use the centers pay the fees regardless of frequency of use.
Revised September 8, 2012