By Ben Kleppinger
9:57 AM EDT, March 14, 2013
STANFORD — Magistrates have given initial approval to a plan to implement franchise fees on waste collection companies operating in Lincoln County.
Solid Waste Director Chris Thomason said the fees would only apply to companies that pick up Dumpsters for businesses, not to anyone who picks up residential trash.
Magistrates approved a first reading of an ordinance amendment Tuesday that would give the Lincoln/Garrard Solid Waste board authority to set a fee on commercial trash pickups and a cap on how much waste-collection companies can charge per pickup.
Thomason estimated the fees could bring in around $25,000 per year for solid waste, which would allow the department to grow with demand and implement improvements without eating into the county's general fund.
Fees will likely be set at around 6 percent of whatever the company is charging for trash pickup, he said.
Caps on how much companies can charge will be set based on "average rates for the area" and will take into account things like fuel costs, Thomason said.
"It won't be something so low that nobody would want to do business," he said. "We understand that's how people make their living and we don't want to put them out of business."
Lincoln County's franchise fees would be "non-exclusive," meaning multiple trash-pickup companies can compete for business by offering lower prices.
Thomson said right now, there are three companies operating in Lincoln County that offer Dumpster-pickup services.
But if the case arises where there is only one trash-pickup company operating in an area, County Attorney Daryl Day said the cap on pickup charges helps protect local businesses.
Without competitors or a charge cap, a trash-pickup company could raise its rates to very high levels and gouge area businesses, he said.
Magistrates still have to approve a second reading of the ordinance amendment before it becomes law, at which point the Lincoln/Garrard Solid Waste board would have to set the price cap and fee percentage.