Under the Dome

NC House debates curbside recycling

Percy Talbert hustles an emptied Orange County Recycling rollercart back to a driveway as he works his way down Church Street in Chapel Hill in 2014. The N.C. House is debating whether counties like Orange can operate recycling programs and charge all residents a flat fee for the service.
Percy Talbert hustles an emptied Orange County Recycling rollercart back to a driveway as he works his way down Church Street in Chapel Hill in 2014. The N.C. House is debating whether counties like Orange can operate recycling programs and charge all residents a flat fee for the service. hlynch@newsobserver.com

The N.C. House spent about 30 minutes Thursday debating whether counties should be allowed to charge fees for curbside recycling collection.

The controversial provision is part of House Bill 430, which features various legislative requests from the N.C. Association of County Commissioners.

The provision gives county commissioners authority to create a recycling collection program and charge a fee that reflects the cost of the service. The bill sponsor, Republican Rep. Pat McElraft of Emerald Isle, said many counties are already doing just that.

“They’ve been doing this for years and years and years,” she said. “Only because of one citizen (complaint) did it come up, and the statutes were not that clear. … Our counties are not trying to get more money.”

But Rep. Paul Stam, an Apex Republican, said the fee system is a regressive way to pay for recycling services, because all families pay the same amount regardless of their household size and how much they recycle.

“It’s a very bad way to collect what in reality is a tax,” Stam said. “This bill is not about whether you like recycling or not. It’s about how we should pay for it.”

Rep. Dana Bumgardner, a Gastonia Republican, proposed an amendment to drop the recycling legislation from the bill. Several House members worried that the move would harm counties that already provide the service.

“I don’t want to get into a situation where we are putting into jeopardy all of the recycling programs in all of our counties,” said Rep. Becky Carney, a Charlotte Democrat.

At McElraft’s request, a vote on the bill was postponed until Tuesday.

  Comments