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Can we really blame the Chatham County staff?

By Michael Tucker
Posted Monday, September 23, 2013

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Pittsboro, NC - I spent 33 years in the private sector and eight years serving the entire executive branch of North Carolina state government and some of the judicial branch. One of my personal goals serving the taxpayers in North Carolina was to save the taxpayers my annual salary. (I was in the top 10% of salaried state employees.) I am very proud after eight years of service, total savings were $13.2 million. (I did not make that much! I exceeded my goal.) And then I went back into private service.

My latest venture has been to recycle federally regulated solid waste the state of North Carolina requires Chatham County (and all NC counties) to collect and dispose according to written guidelines.

Here is a specific example of how Chatham County government operates.

When you and I buy new tires for our vehicles, we pay a federally mandated excise tax to prepay for each tire's disposal. Vehicle tires cannot be thrown into a municipal landfill because tires "bubble up" to the surface over time. Tires must be disposed of properly or there are heavy fines and consequences. We pay a similar disposal tax for new refrigerators, washers, dryers, and other white goods. You and I prepay for their disposal.

Remember that disposal of tires is not free. Disposal is prepaid.

The county is required to collect your car and truck tires and mine without charging you more money. After all, you prepaid for disposal when you bought them new. Chatham County has a contract with a Pennsylvania company to cut up the tires into pieces and dump the pieces into a special landfill for tires called a "monofil". There are two of these big hole monofils in North Carolina. My company offered to divert a small amount of these tires for recycling and used as raw materials for new and innovative uses. When we recycle the tires, they are no longer regulated waste. This is like when you disassemble a broken wood pallet you end up with wood boards. It is no longer trash. It has become lumber.

We offered to recycle a small amount of passenger tires from the Chatham County landfill for a 13.3 percent discount. We offered to pick up the tires at the various collection sites around the county for a 45.5 percent discount. It seemed like a win-win-win for the taxpayers, the county, and my company.

Instead, the solid waste director did not like how he thinks I manage my state permits, or operate my business, or envision property improvements, or my methods to produce prototypes and demonstration models.. The solid waste director wants to approve my external customer list before he will accept our discounted services. He would rather dump Chatham County tires into a big hole in the ground owned by a Pennsylvania monopoly than help a fledgling, local business recycle 100% of the tires diverted for recycling.

The condition for doing business was to show the solid waste director my external customer list. I absolutely refuse. The solid waste director cannot find anything anywhere justifying such conditions. No similar condition was imposed on the Pennsylvania company when the solid waste director renewed the contract back in 2010.

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Can we really blame the Chatham County staff?

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