Lack of trash may cost taxpayers in Winston-Salem

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.-- The City of Winston-Salem says people are throwing away less and no trash means no cash for the city's budget.

Since 2008, there's been a nearly 30,000 ton reduction in solid waste coming into the Hanes Mill Landfill. City leaders blame it on the recession.

At the construction landfill, waste tonnage is down 66%.

"We have seen a reduction in our waste. There has been no doubt that the economy has really the tonnage coming in this facility. I'd say people are throwing away less, but a lot comes from the commercial side and the industrial side and they are having to slow down also," said Ed Gibson, a Solid Waste Engineer.

The landfill charges by the pound and been self-sufficient for years. Money generated at the landfill was also used to pay for recycling programs in Winston-Salem. Over time as the revenue has decreased, the city has started to offset recycling costs with its general budget.

This year, thanks in part to the reduction in trash, city estimates show $555,000 will be needed from general taxpayer funds to cover the cost of recycling.

"It is proof to me how bad the recession really is," says Gibson.

Brian Watson uses the landfill weekly, since he runs his own trash collection service and he agrees people are throwing away less.

"They are having to use stuff longer, so there is not as much going in the trash and they are fixing up what they have to, to keep going so they won't have to spend money on new," says Watson.

The good news according to city officials, a steady decrease in waste is adding years to the landfill's useful life.

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