SEATTLE (Waste Advantage): Virginia taxpayers have been putting millions every year toward the permitting and inspection of landfills and other facilities that handle nonhazardous solid waste. Now, a bill sent to the governor’s desk would increase the fees waste operators have to pay with the goal of covering the state’s expenses. “It just makes the landfill program self-sufficient so you’re not using general fund tax dollars to pay for landfill enforcement,” said Sen. Scott Surovell, D-Fairfax, during a February subcommittee meeting on the bill, which he carried.
Unusually, the waste industry, whose companies would pay for the fee increases, is supporting the hikes. In a March 4 letter to Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Virginia Waste Industries Association Chair Jennifer Johnson urged the governor to sign the bill, saying that the increased funding would allow the Department of Environmental Quality to carry out waste facility permitting in a timely fashion and “address issues before they become problems.”
“We understand that you campaigned to streamline government and not to burden individuals with more expenses than they need, and we support you as you fulfill that promise,” wrote Johnson. “We believe these annual permit fees are an environmental win for Virginia and not a tax issue.”
Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for the governor’s office, said Youngkin “continues to review the legislation.” Virginia has charged waste companies permit fees for facilities like landfills since 1992 and an annual fee since 2004. More than a decade ago, at the direction of the General Assembly, the Virginia Waste Management Board bumped up the fees after the legislature cut the state’s solid waste program budget. Lawmakers, however, prohibited the new payments from exceeding 60 percent of the program’s costs.
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