Roanoke City considering solid waste fee to help close budget gap

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Roanoke City leaders are looking for ways to close a $6.4 million budget shortfall. They say one option on the table is to start charging residents a solid waste fee. It's a service people in other localities, such as Lynchburg, already pay for.

The city provides solid waste services for free, but officials are considering charging a fee as one option to help balance the budget. Mayor Sherman Lea said he's not happy about the idea, but it's up for consideration.

"It's being put on the table," said Lea. "Not only that we are talking about furloughs, we are talking about not filling vacant positions so there are a lot of things there that we have to consider."

Other localities in our area have been charging solid waste fees for years. Region 2000 provides services for the city of Lynchburg and surrounding areas. Officials say residents can bring up to 500 pounds of waste per month to the landfill for free; however, there is a charge of $0.39 for every 20 pounds over the 500-pound limit.

Roanoke City officials say they currently do not have a specific amount being proposed for a solid waste fee. Amelia Merchant, the director of Management and Budget, said each dollar, per month, would add up to $373,410.

Lea said the city considered imposing a fee back in 2015, but believed that proposed cost was too high.

"We talked about a $7 per month,per household and that went all across the board and that created a lot of problems because $7 dollars in some neighborhoods here is a lot," said Lea.

With revenues down, Roanoke City Council must make some tough decision. Some see a solid waste fee as a better option compared to others.

"What we do not want is anyone to be laid off that is something that we do not want,"; said Lea. " I am very clear on that. We have to try as best as we can to keep paying increases where we can because we have to remain competitive."

The solid waste fee is just one option being considered. City leaders plan to have a public meeting about the budget on April 27.