Tire disposal fees to be researched by county attorney

RUTLEDGE – Grainger County Attorney Lane Wolfenbarger will research the options available to the county to set a tire disposal fee for tires disposed of through the Grainger County Solid Waste Department. 

Grainger County Solid Waste Director Ed McBee presented commissioners with information about surrounding counties’ tire disposal fees and funding amounts included in solid waste departments’ budgets for tire disposal by the various county commissions. McBee said Hawkins County includes $40,000 a year in its solid waste department’s budget for tire disposal. 

McBee said he had reached out to Monroe, Scott, Roane, Hamblen, Claiborne, Jefferson, Hawkins and Union Counties for information.

McBee said Grainger County averages between 12 and 15 trailer loads of tires for disposal each year. He said 85 percent of the tires disposed of in the county come from tire vendors. He said he receives $1 from the State for each tire disposed of by a vendor. 

Tire vendors collect a fee from customers who are purchasing tires and then submit the fee to the State. The State then sends $1 per tire to Grainger County. 

Commissioner Wendy Noe asked McBee what his recommendation for the county would be. 

McBee said, “The tires and the situation that this county has got to deal with, either we make some kind of decision or the county is going to have to absorb this cost. My department budget can’t afford this high of an increase.”

Noe asked McBee if he liked Monroe County’s plan. McBee said in Monroe County the cost for disposal of a motorcycle tire is $1 and a passenger tire is $2. He said Union County charges $5 for tractor tires. He said he would be more comfortable with Union County’s fee for tractor tires, and a $3 fee for tractor-trailer tires. 

He said industrial tires, such as tires for a front-end loader are not something the county typically receives for disposal. Noe suggested going ahead and setting a price in the event of future disposal of such tires. McBee suggested a $10 fee for industrial tire disposal. 

Noe asked, “Is there a reason that we take tires from vendors and we dispose of their tires for them, instead of them contracting with a third party to do their own disposal?”

McBee said, “No, it’s been that way ever since I’ve been here, Wendy. I came in 2016. I had a tire trailer there and they’ve brought them to me ever since.”

McBee said he had spoken with TDEC representative Bob Fletcher, who told him the county must have at least one facility where tires could be disposed of by individuals. He said Fletcher had advised the county could either charge vendors a fee or require them to contract with a third party for tire disposal.

Commissioner James Acuff said, “Of course, also, I mean, they’re selling those tires, and there’s a sales tax on that which is coming back to the county. I mean, we’re not just getting a dollar. We’re getting more than a dollar off of these tires.”

Acuff made a motion to have the county attorney research what limitations might apply to fee amounts charged by the county for tire disposal and to determine whether the county commission is required to approve of the fee or the Solid Waste Department could set fees independently of the commission.