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Virginia County Misses: New York City Trash

New York City's trash might be unwanted in many places, but it's gold to Virginia's Charles City County.

Garbage disposed at the Charles City County Sanitary Landfill raised $4 million in 1998, about one-third of the county's operations budget. That figure would increase if New York City diverted more of its trash to the facility after its Fresh Kills landfill closes in 2001.

However, Virginia Gov. James Gilmore recently signed a law capping the amount of out-of-state trash that can be dumped in Virginia. Charles City County is worried its trash revenues will drop when the legislation goes into effect July 1, 1999.

"They've placed an artificial cap, and we're deeply concerned about that," says Ken Chandler, Charles City County's administrator.

About 3,000 tons per day (tpd) - nearly half from New York City and the rest from Virginia, New Jersey and New York State - are disposed of at Charles City County's landfill, a 934-acre, 9 year-old facility operated by Houston-based Waste Management Inc.

Chandler estimates the new law would lower the amount of trash dumped at the landfill to 2,500 tpd, decreasing revenues to between $2.9 million and $3.4 million per year. The landfill was permitted at 5,000 tpd.

So far, the landfill has been an economic boon for the county, funding a public K-12 school and enabling the county to lower property taxes.

The county has prepared for a drop in state revenues by freezing spending. It also is looking at other ways to raise money.

"We're looking at all the tax alternatives we can possibly have,' Chandler says.

Although New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said he will oppose the legislation in court, Chandler says Charles City County does not plan to join that fight. It already spent $45,000 this year toward testimony at the Virginia legislative session where legislators adopted the new waste laws.