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The Orange County Solid Waste Convenience Center Fee (CC Fee)

The CC Fee was first billed in tax year 2011 to partially finance improvements and operational costs of the County’s solid waste convenience center system. The current projected level of revenue from the fee is $1,182,585, which will provide a predictable, equitable, sustainable source of funding for operating and improving the convenience centers.  The remainder of the Sanitation Division’s budget is funded from a subsidy from enterprise fund revenues and the County’s general fund, the latter of which is financed  primarily from property taxes. The County Schools pays the Sanitation Division a fee for waste collection and disposal services. Now that the solid waste landfill has closed (June 30, 2013), no subsidy is available from landfill tipping fees.

The County established a system of five (5) staffed solid waste convenience centers in 1993 as a means primarily for residents of unincorporated Orange County to have safe, clean, organized and staffed locations to dispose of their household waste. Over twenty years, the convenience center system has evolved from a simple system of rural waste collection sites to a more comprehensive system which includes eighteen categories of recyclable items and waste along with salvage sheds for recovery or reusable items. The centers receive over 500,000 visits per year and manage over 11,000 tons of materials. They are a popular and important core county service.

The CC Fee was established as a means of placing the convenience centers on a firmer financial footing. The centers are now partly funded by the users in a manner based on their estimated proportional use level.  Rural single family residences are the most likely users of the sites.  The owners of those properties pay $40 per year on the 2013 tax bill. Urban single family households, the second most likely users, owners pay $20 per year.  Apartments, being the least likely users, property owners pay $4 per unit per year towards funding the convenience centers.


Incorporating a predictable fee into the overall funding enables the County to continue to expand hours of operation and to construct capital improvements that make the centers more efficient, safer and easier to use, especially for the aging population. The first improvements were completed at the Walnut Grove Church Road Convenience Center in May 2013. Planning for improvements to the Eubanks Road Center has begun.  Detailed design and permitting for Eubanks are scheduled for FY 2013-14.  Construction is anticipated in FY 2014-15.

Only County residents are eligible to use the convenience centers, not businesses, not-for-profits, other non-residential entities or anyone from outside Orange County.  Therefore, only improved residential properties in Orange County receive a CC fee; unlike the 3-R Fee for recycling that is charged to all improved properties in the County, including residential, commercial and non-profits. Owners of public housing or governmental entities that own individual residences will be required to pay the fee as their occupants are eligible to use the convenience centers.

Almost all UNC-owned properties are exempt from all these fees because UNC has its own recycling and waste collection programs. A few houses within the Town of Chapel Hill owned by UNC are eligible to use the centers as they are occupied and used as residences and are not provided UNC waste services. They receive a CC fee.

The list of questions below should help explain the CC Fee. If you have further questions about the CC fee or the 3-R Fee, call the Revenue Collection office at 919-245-2725 x 2 or email tax@orangecountync.gov.  If you have questions about the centers, solid waste or recycling in Orange County, call the Solid Waste Management Department at 919-968-2788 or email recycling@orangecountync.gov

Thank you.

  1. Introduction to the CC Fee and Convenience Center Overview
  2. Must I pay the CC Fee even if I don't use the solid waste convenience centers?
  3. What does the CC Fee pay for?
  4. Why is the CC Fee necessary?
  5. What is the fee for each sector of the county?
  6. How is the cost of the various CC Fees determined?
  7. How does the County determine which CC Fees to assess to my property?
  8. What if I cannot afford to pay the CC Fee?
  9. What if I believe the fee is inaccurately assessed to my property?
  10. Is the CC Fee fair and equitable?
  11. Who does not have to pay the CC fee?
  12. How do I use the solid waste convenience centers if I have never done so?
  13. By what authority does Orange County charge the CC Fee?

1. Introduction: The Cost of Operating the Solid Waste Convenience Centers in Orange County

The Solid Waste Convenience Center (CC) Fee funds part of the operation of the County’s Solid Waste Convenience Centers. The Orange County Solid Waste Management Department Sanitation Division is responsible for operating and maintaining five (5) staffed solid waste convenience centers throughout the unincorporated parts of the County as well as collecting waste from County schools and County government buildings. These convenience centers are available to all residents of Orange County. The Centers have been in operation since 1993 as a County-funded service.

The separate CC fee is assessed to all properties eligible to use the convenience centers: Single family homes (generally including those up to five dwelling units) in the unincorporated area are $40/dwelling unit/year; single-family homes (including those with up to five dwelling units) in the incorporated Town limits of each of the three Towns are $20/dwelling unit/year and multifamily units (more than five units) are $4/dwelling unit/year. A property with multiple units will be assessed one (1) fee for each unit. 

All improved residential properties in Orange County including apartments, condominiums and mobile homes are subject to the CC fee.  Properties with mixed uses are assessed the fee for the residential units only. None of the commercial entities on mixed use properties will receive a CC fee nor are they permitted to use the Solid Waste Convenience Centers. The owner of each property eligible for using the convenience center sites is assessed for the CC fee regardless of whether the occupants choose to use the centers.

2. Must I pay the fee if I do not use the centers?

Yes. All owners of improved residential property in Orange County must pay the CC Fee.  While use is voluntary, the fee is assessed to all eligible properties whether they use the centers or not. Orange County encourages all residents to take full advantage of the various waste disposals, recycling and reuse services available to them at the centers.

3. What does the CC fee pay for?

The CC fee helps fund operations, expansion of hours and modernization improvements planned for the five (5) County-owned and operated solid waste convenience centers throughout unincorporated Orange County.  Improvements began with the Walnut Grove Church Road Center completed in May 2013. Detailed design and permitting of the Eubanks Road convenience center improvements for efficiency ease of use, and increased safety by using compactors, two-tiered dumping, paving the gravel- covered surfaces, improving lighting and increasing recycling opportunities will take place in FY 13-14. Construction of the improvements is projected for FY 14-15.  Improvements to the remaining sites are planned after that. The CC Fee is enabling the County to shift some of the funding of the convenience centers from the General Fund, which is still derived primarily from property taxes, to partial but increasing support from a dedicated source of funds. This CC fee is amore stable, equitable and predictable funding source.

The cost of operating convenience centers includes on-site staffing, debt service, site leases, utilities, maintenance, waste receptacles, service vehicles, waste hauling expenses, and disposal tipping fees. Costs for conventional recycling at the convenience centers for paper, cans, bottles, rigid plastics, batteries, motor oil anti-freeze and electronics are borne by the recycling division budget.

4. Why is the CC Fee necessary?

The CC Fee was enacted in June 2011 by the Orange County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) to help finance Orange County's solid waste convenience centers.  The County began assessing the CC Fee with the 2011 tax bill. Each improved residential property in Orange County receives a CC Fee to partially pay for the operation and planned improvements to the Solid Waste Convenience Centers.

This method of financing now provides an alternative stable, equitable predictable funding source that is not entirely reliant on the General Fund for operating and improving the convenience centers. In recent years, fiscal pressure on the General Fund forced the County to cut operating hours at the centers and delay improvements that enhance safety, increase efficiency and create better environmental conditions. The CC fee enabled expansion of hours and initiation of improvements.  An increase in the fee this year allows further increase in hours and enables design of improvements to the Eubanks Road centers as well as an increase in the proportion of more predictable, dedicated funding.

The County's General Fund can only absorb a limited portion of the costs of the solid waste system, yet citizens continue to seek expanded hours and services and express concern about cleanliness and congestion. The funding limitation inherent in the General Fund because of competition for resources had also inhibited the County from effectively undertaking the longer term efficiency and safety improvements needed at the Centers.  Following the levy of the CC fee, improvements started with the Walnut Grove Church Road Center in September 2012 and were completed in May 2013.

There is a need to continue to modernize and improve the remaining centers.  More importantly, with the Orange County landfill closure in June 2013, hauling waste materials longer distances will require more efficient techniques such as on-site compaction. As customers’ physical needs change with the County’s aging population the Convenience Centers will also need to be adapted to continue to provide important services to the community.

5. What is the fee for each sector of the county?

 

Fee Type

Fee description

Annual Fee

CCR    Unincorporated Area Convenience Center Fee.
Charged to owners of all habitable single family or duplex residential units in unincorporated areas of Orange County.

The CCR Fee covers a portion of the costs of operating the five (5) County Solid Waste Convenience Centers. It is higher than the fee in the urban areas because most usage of the convenience centers is by households in the unincorporated areas where there is no publicly provided waste collection and recycling services are more limited.   

$40 per unit per year

CCU     Incorporated areas Convenience Center Fee
Charged to owners of all habitable single family or duplex type units within Town limits or those in single-wide mobile homes without dumpster service.

CCU Fee covers a proportional cost of operating the County Solid Waste Convenience Centers. It is lower than the fee charged to those in the unincorporated areas because user surveys taken at convenience centers have shown a lower rate of use by urban households which have tax-supported publicly provided waste collection. They are less likely to have a need to use the centers routinely.

$20 per unit per year

CCM  Multi-family Unit Convenience Center Fee
Charged to owners of all habitable apartment units, rural mobile home parks with dumpster service, or high density developments eligible for multifamily-style waste collection service.

The CCM Fee covers a small portion of the costs of operating the County Solid Waste Convenience Centers. It is small because evidence shows that apartment dwellers rarely use the convenience centers and those mobile home parks with their own dumpster service also use the centers very little.

$4 per unit per year

 

6. How is the cost of the various CC Fees determined?

As a part of preparing the annual budget for the Sanitation Division, the full cost of operating and making potential improvements to the various centers is analyzed. The full annual cost of services, in addition to amortized capital costs of projected improvements at the centers, is considered. Costs are then divided by the number of residential housing units eligible to receive the service and apportioned based on varying use levels by different categories (sectors) of users.

Those likely to use the sites more frequently are billed at a higher level and those less likely billed less (see Question 5 above).  A set of fees is then calculated that covers some of the costs of operating and improving the centers. The fees increased from FY2012-13 to cover a greater portion of that overall operating expense.  The remaining portion of operating costs continues to be covered by the General Fund The current rate of the CC fees enables both expanded hours of operation at two (2) Centers, Walnut Grove Church Road and Eubanks Road and the ability to begin the second in the series of site improvements at the Eubanks Road center.  

7. How does the County determine which CC Fee to assess to my property?

As noted in the above fee schedule table in Question 5, all improved residential properties in Orange County are subject to the CC Fee. Every improved residential property is assessed with a CC fee:  the Rural CCR or Urban CCU Fee or the Multifamily CCM Fee. A single-family residential entity in the unincorporated area receives a $40 per year fee. In the incorporated areas, a $20 fee per single family unit is applied and a $4 fee for each multifamily unit. Mobile homes in mobile home parks in incorporated areas receive a $20 CCU urban fee. Mobile homes in parks in the unincorporated areas without dumpsters also receive a $20 fee per unit. Those in mobile home parks in the unincorporated area with dumpsters are charged $4 per unit.

Owners of the parcel of land on which there are single-wide mobile homes on foundations with axles removed or leaseholds on which there are double-wide homes or other habitable structures will be assessed the convenience center fee for the area where they are located. In unincorporated areas it is $40 per year and in the incorporated Towns $20.

 

Commercial/other non-residential/tax-exempt properties are presently not subject to the fees and not eligible to use the convenience centers. If your non-residential property is assessed a CC Fee, you should alert the Solid Waste Management Department through its appeals process and the fee will be rescinded.  Click here for the appeals form.

 

8. What if I cannot afford to pay the CC Fee?

The Board of County Commissioners, in recognizing that there are citizens with limited income, has created a fund to assist those citizens. To qualify for assistance, the citizen must complete an application and provide financial documentation required. The current maximum annual income level to qualify is $27,100 per household, subject to change.  If you wish to discuss the possibility of receiving assistance to pay the CC Fee you are urged to contact the Orange County Revenue Department at (919) 245-2725 ext.2 or email tax@orangecountync.gov. Look on the County's web site for the payment assistance program form, which will be posted there: http://www.orangecountync.gov/revenue.

 

9. What if I believe my fee is inaccurately assessed to my property?

The County has a formal appeals process (3-R Fee and CC Fee share a single appeals form). The first step is to complete an appeals form.

An appeals form may be obtained from the Revenue Collection Office at 919-245-2725 Ext. 3 or by mail:
Orange County Revenue Collection Office

P. O. Box 8181

Hillsborough, NC  27278

Attn: CC Fee Appeal

Follow the instructions on the form, sign and submit the form (paper original copy only) by mail to:

Orange County Solid Waste Management

P. O. Box 17177

Chapel Hill NC 27516

Attn: Director

A review of the appeal will then be conducted by Solid Waste staff utilizing information provided by the County Land Records office, the County Assessor’s Office and Solid Waste Management office. Appellants will receive written notification of the outcome of their appeal.

 

10. Is the CC Fee fair and equitable?

Our County’s leaders studied a variety of ways to generate revenue to fund Solid Waste Convenience Centers. They selected the CC Fee structure because it allowed the County to create a funding mechanism that was stable, equitable and predictable, with a tiered structure that acknowledged the general usage differences by various sectors of the community – rural, urban and multifamily. This approach allowed the County to target the fee to the eligible users and also allowed for the value of the assessment to any one property to more closely approximate the cost of service utilized than if the same level of fee were applied to all residential properties.

The varying CC fee billed to Multifamily, Rural, and Urban residences pays for part of the cost of operating the centers and capitalizing improvements. The annual unit cost of the fee assessment is $40 per year for each single family home in unincorporated areas, $20 per year for single family within town limits and $4 per apartment unit, is about that covers part of the costs of he Convenience Center operations.The remainder is covered by the recycling fee revenues and the General Fund which is derived mostly from property taxes with some sales taxes.  The CC fee is equitable among the various classes of users because users in a given sector are likely to use the convenience centers at a similar frequency/level and are thus assessed the same fee.

While other approaches such as charging on-site for the amount and types of waste generated by each user might be more equitable, an annual household fee was judged to be less complex and simpler to administer; it helps avoids the need to handle cash at the convenience centers and eliminates any potential dispute about the nature of the waste coming in e.g. if a couch is judged by one site attendant to be reusable and therefore goes to the salvage shed at no charge while another attendant might  determine that same couch to be waste which would have a disposal cost as a bulky item.

No single financing mechanism is perfectly equitable, however when creating the CC fee, Orange County sought to create a reasonable, predictable and fair system to capture revenue to support public waste disposal and recycling sites and to have the level of assessment reasonably closely approximate the value of services to each user sector.

 

11. Who does not have to pay the CC Fee?

In general non-residential improved properties in Orange Country are not subject to the CC Fee. All habitable residential properties are, with two exceptions: University of North Carolina properties that are served by the UNC Office of Waste Reduction and Recycling (a separate publicly funded recycling program servicing UNC-Chapel Hill Facilities); and those improved structures on a residential parcel that do not have the capability to generate recyclable wastes (e.g. a separate storage building that is listed as an improved property, but that in and of itself does not generate waste).

Additionally, those property owners who qualify for the 3-R Fee payment assistance program (see FAQ # 8) may also receive public assistance in paying the CC Fee

 

12. How do I use the solid waste convenience centers if I have never done so?

Every residence in the County may use the centers to dispose or recycle its own waste generated at the residence regardless of residence type or location. No other waste generators may use them. If you own rental property, the renter or tenant may bring waste from that residence to the convenience center. You as the owner may not bring waste from the rental property as that is then considered commercial waste; you must take that waste to the appropriate disposal and/or recycling facility or hire a private hauler to do so. If you live outside Orange County, even if you own rental residential property within the County, you may not use the centers. 

Centers are available only during their regular operating hours; do not leave materials when centers are not open. You may be subject to penalties for illegal dumping or littering if you do so. Loads transported in open vehicles should be properly tarped or otherwise secured.

Do make sure to have proof of residency in case you are asked by a Center Operator. Center operators have the right to refuse service to anyone who cannot produce proof of residency.  If you live at a multifamily property you may use the Convenience Centers.

 

13. By what authority does Orange County charge the CC Fee?

NCGS § 153A-102 (Commissioners to set fees) enables Counties to charge fees for services permitted or required by law. The Convenience Center Fee (CC Fee) is used to finance part of the costs of operating and improving the solid waste convenience centers in Orange County. It is applied to all residential properties, whether those properties use County facilities for disposal or not. Those eligible to use the centers pay the fees regardless of frequency of use.  

 

 

Revised July 2, 2013