BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Leaders in Brunswick County are still years away from using a new landfill, but something else is already piling up -- the cost to taxpayers.
The county already bought the land along Middle River Road in Supply for $1.6 million. Leaders then rezoned it to house the landfill, but before it can open, the state of NC needs a site study to make sure it won't negatively affect the environment.
That will cost the county more than $500,000 to have it done; but first, the project has to pass on a local level where it's been waiting to go before the planning board since October.
Assistant county manager Steve Stone says the spot picked to expand the Brunswick County landfill is feasible and logical, located practically in the center of the county.
Yet, to people who live in the nearby Royal Oaks community, it doesn't make sense. They've fought the idea since day one.
Now, those in Royal Oaks folks have legal help to back them – UNC Center for Civil Rights is in their corner, doing the work pro-bono.
However, Brunswick County's expert counsel isn't quite as cheap -- nearly $150,000 for the first two hearings alone. Currently, taxpayers are picking up that tab.
"In anything, there's a tipping point where a governing board would say, 'This costs too much. Don't do it,'" said Stone. "But we haven't discussed any such number here."
But the appropriate number keeps growing. First, it was $75,000; then county commissioners approved an extra $50,000 then $75,000 more in December.
As the tipping point increases, so does the proposed tipping fee for anyone who would use the landfill.
The expert witnesses called by Brunswick County's council have testified that a construction and demolition landfill in the proposed area would be in harmony with the surrounding community, and the hearing continues February 13.
WECT is told that money from tipping fees the landfill collects will be put back in the general fund as repayment, and will continue to monitor that issue.