Sedgwick County commissioners are debating whether to raise the $4.04 solid waste fee that residents pay every year to pay for a place to dispose of computers, televisions and tires as well as provide a financial cushion for storm debris cleanup.
To do all of that would cost residential property owners an extra $3.80 a year on their tax bill.
Commissioners debated whether the charge is a fee or a tax. Chairman Karl Peterjohn said he considers it a tax because everyone must pay for it, even if they don’t use the county’s household hazardous waste site or take advantage of electronic waste disposal events.
Commissioner Kelly Parks, who is not seeking re-election, said he would like to see the county raise the charge to pay for special projects and events. But he also noted that those running for re-election — commissioners Dave Unruh and Gwen Welshimer — might not be supportive of raising taxpayers’ bills.
Unruh said he would support raising the charge 20 cents to build up a cushion for storm debris cleanup. But he said he would be hard-pressed to raise the fee by $3.80 a year.
Peterjohn again reiterated that the fee is a tax. He said all property owners must pay the charge even if they don’t use any of the county’s trash services.
Commissioner Tim Norton countered that there are many county services he pays for as a taxpayer but doesn’t use.
He didn’t take advantage of mental health services last year but supports paying for them, he said. He didn’t take advantage of services for the aging, he said — although he joked he likely qualified for them.
“I don’t drive on the roads in your district, but I support paying for them,” Norton told Peterjohn.
Commissioners made no decision about the solid waste charge. They are hearing from department heads now about their budget requests but won’t make any formal decisions about next year’s budget until August.
County manager William Buchanan will present his recommended budget July 14.