As members of Down Home Madison talk to folks in their local communities, issues concerning the local dump and the fees associated with safely disposing of trash in Madison County keep coming up.
The evidence of a problem is seen as you approach the landfill and other collection stations: Litter and trash can be seen all along the side of the roadway. While this is an eyesore as well as an environmental hazard, it is our feeling at Down Home Madison that it also indicates that there is a structural problem at hand. After all, the proximity of this trash near the appropriate sites indicates that the intent of local residents is to get their trash to the right place— why is it not making it all the way there?
From our conversations with local residents, it appears that people are being turned away from the dump likely due to not having their trash card (necessary to be shown at the time of dumping) or have fees built up that have suspended their right to dump. We also have heard from local renters that sometimes they are not given the necessary card by their landlords. Wherever the breakdown is, at the end of the day Madison County is getting trashed.
“I do hope the higher cost of dumping does not turn our beautiful county back into a place where people just toss their garbage off the road someplace,” says Lakata, a Down Home Madison member from Mars Hill. “I do remember when most did this. Our back roads were in bad shape when I was a child due to this issue. Our beautiful jewel of the Blue Ridge needs to stay a jewel not become a dumping grounds again.”
We need to know what is causing this problem so that we can find a solution and keep our county healthy and clean. This past week, Down Home members asked for the County Commission to hold a public hearing about this issue to learn more about the issue and what is going on. There seems to be a lot of confusion over the issue locally: It is unclear, for example, if the $180 annual payment is a tax or if it is a fee. It is also difficult to find public information about whether or not our neighbors can get assistance with these costs if they are low-income.
“I am a lifelong resident of the county,” says Renee, a Down Home member in Madison County. “I have worries that some of the more vulnerable in our community, primarily elderly folks that might live in the more remote areas of the county, will be forced to sacrifice hygienic access to these facilities due to financial constraints.”
We are gathering a group of concerned citizens to help find out why this dump card issue is causing so many problems for everyday people to dump their trash here in Madison County.
If you want to get involved, we welcome you to join the group to help find a better solution by updating the policy about how much the fee costs (and why), what the best way to collect the fee is, and whether the fee is actually a fee or a tax, among many other questions.
Join us! Our next meeting on this issue is this SUNDAY at 3 PM. All our meetings are online right now due to the pandemic. Join us through your computer or phone. Register here.
As always, you can reach out to us here: [email protected]