Town clarifies garbage math

Published 5:30 pm Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

A letter to the editor published on Jan. 20th (“Town profiting from garbage?”) implied that the town was profiting from the recently imposed trash collection fees and termination of recycling. I wanted to provide the actual cost and revenue amounts.

The letter states that the town budgeted $350,015 in trash collection fees. This number is not accurate. That number would have been true if the town had imposed the full amount of recycling and trash collection at a rate of $9.69. This rate was the combination of the price that the town was paying for trash collection, $6.01 per stop, and recycling at $3.70 per stop. The trash fee that was implemented is only $6.01 per month as the recycling was to be terminated.

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The implementation of the $6.01 trash fee created a budgeted revenue of $216,865. Termination of the recycling contract saved the town $132,844 annually.

After negotiating the termination of the recycling portion of our contract, the trash collection fee increased by 84 cents to a new rate of $6.85.  Even though the cost of trash collection increased, the town did not increase the collection fee charged to the residents. Thus, the town’s cost for trash collection increased to $247,176. The town absorbed the additional $30,311 in lieu of increasing the fee.

The information the town used regarding the disposition of the recyclable items being incinerated came from several sources. The Town of Nags Head, which also uses Bay Disposal for recycling collection, discontinued its recycling program in May for the same reasons the Town of Smithfield has indicated. They were told by Bay Disposal that their recyclable items were being incinerated due to current market conditions. This information was further confirmed by conversations with Bay Disposal in April in which it was confirmed that the items being collected in Smithfield were going to the Wheelabrator facility for incineration.

The town’s decision to terminate recycling was included in the town Newsletter, the town’s website and the town’s social media. There were also several articles written about the decision in The Smithfield Times.


Michael Stallings

Town Manager