The cost to extend trash services over fighting wildfires: 'Peop - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

The cost to extend trash services over fighting wildfires: 'People are still burning their trash'

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TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

So far, 19 wildfires have started from people who are lighting either their brush piles or burning in burn barrels, instead of disposing these materials responsibly.

While residents within city limits have trash services available, people in rural areas are having to find other ways to dispose of their trash.

"We have people who still, despite the fact they understand there's a burn ban, they will burn their trash," said Judge Joel Baker, Commissioner for the city of Tyler

Inside the city of Tyler, it costs $5.4 million a year to service 29,000 households twice a week.

Tyler residents pay roughly $15.30 a month for this service, which includes tax and fluctuating fuel costs.

"You have to factor in mileage. Trash trucks get 3 miles to a gallon and that is a major figure," said Russ Jackson, the Solid Waste Manager for Tyler. "Our fuel costs are almost $500,000 a year in a compressed area here, plus going to the landfill."

Burn bans are now making those in rural areas pay to dump their trash, or privately contract with a company to pick it up.

This typically costs them more.

So what would it cost to extend this trash service to cover all of Smith County?

According to U.S. Census Bureau, Smith County has around 78,000 households with a property tax of 32 cents.

Judge Joel Baker says to extend these services, Smith County could see an increase of up to 4.5 cents, resulting to a 14% increase in property taxes for everyone.

"You'd have to tax everyone within the county, even those who live within the city who already pay for trash pick up through their water bills," said Judge Joel Baker.

Although trash services may cost more for those who live in unincorporated areas of the county, Judge Joel Baker says it's worth the expense.

"The minor expense of contracting with a private service would be much less in comparison to what they could be responsible for it they caused damaged to other peoples' property," said Judge Joel Baker. "They could be fined for not only starting the fire, but for any damage that occurs because of it. They can certainly be responsible for all the resources that were utilized to fight the fire."

Judge Joel Baker also explained that twice a year, the county will have a voucher system available for those who live outside the city limits. They can bring those vouchers and dump at the city landfill.

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