The cost of illegal dumping is about to hit towns throughout Douglas County.
The county is implementing new fees to cover the cost of disposing of a variety of items found along roadways and stored in Hawthorne until a load accumulates for transport to the disposal site.
"It used to be that when the towns would pick up materials, such as a refrigerator or tires, alongside the road, the towns could drop them off at the Highway Department and when enough of them accumulated, they would be disposed of,” Douglas County Board Chairman Mark Liebaert said.
Initially, Liebaert said there was little cost to the county because those items had recycling value.
“When they quit being valuable, the county was starting to absorb those costs,” he said. “So, when the county was looking to cut costs, we said the county was no longer going to take those items from the towns.”
However, there were efficiencies for the towns in being able to drop the items off in Hawthorne and transporting them all at one time rather than each town having to make transport individual items to a landfill or recycling center for disposal.
Liebaert said it made more sense for the county to continue to provide the central location where the items could be dropped off and transported more efficiently.
“They’ve got to do it anyway,” he said of the Highway Department.
However, to cover the county’s costs for disposal of items for the towns, a fee schedule was developed and adopted by the Douglas County Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and towns will be billed for the items that are dropped off at the Hawthorne site.
“The compromise was is the county continues to operate the site for us (towns) to dispose of those items; we just have to pay for them,” said Liebaert, who serves on the Amnicon Town Board. “They’re just going to bill us, I think monthly.”
The fees range in price from $10 to $25 for appliances, $7 to $50 for electronics, $5 for batteries, $10 to $25 for furniture and mattresses, $25 for propane cylinders, $15 per yard for cardboard and $5 to $140 for tires depending on their size and whether they are on a rim.
Dropping off scrap metal is still free at the Hawthorne site.
“Now instead of having to run it one at a time to a recycling center, we do as we have always done,” Liebaert said. “The county holds it until they have enough items for somebody to come and pick them up, or they make the load … it’s a lot better doing it this way.”