Tire disposal fee to go up by 35 percent

Friday, June 22, 2007

Tennessee's tire disposal fee is going up 35 percent because of a law passed by the General Assembly that's awaiting the governor's signature.

"Isn't that just wonderful," says Vicki Holt, tongue-in-cheek, while working at Andy's Tire Store. She's Andy Holt's wife and she collects the fee for the state on every tire that's to be discarded.

The tire disposal fee has been $1 per tire for years. After Gov. Phil Bredesen signs the bill passed by state lawmakers, the price will go to $1.35 on Oct. 1, a date specified in the bills, according to a state spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, a state official says the cost of tire disposal by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has exceeded funding for disposal.

"The department reimburses cities and counties for taking tires away for beneficial reuse and whole tires aren't to go to landfills," TDEC Deputy Communications Director Tisha Calabrese-Benton said. "There was a $1.4 million shortfall across the 95 counties between cost and reimbursement.

"Some counties have been charging a surcharge," Calabrese-Benton said. "The increase may help remove the local surcharge."

There's a trailer parked at Andy's Tire Store where he places used tires, he said. When it's full, the Holts call Marshall County's environmental coordinator and the trailer is towed away.

"It works out really good," Vicki Holt said. "We only pay $50 to have the trailer removed."

Her husband recalls that the tire disposal fee went into effect to pay for tire shredding machines that were towed from one location to another so the rubber would be shredded before disposal. Whole tires hold air in their cavities and so after they're buried they work their way, or float, to the surface of a landfill.

Steel-belted radial tires posed problems for shredders and disposal now includes use of the tires' petroleum content for fuel, according to Calabrese-Benton.

Faced with having to charge customers 35-cents more per tire, the Holts' reaction to the fee increase is balanced with the effect of higher costs for fuel.

"We have more of an issue with he cost of tires going up because when the price of gas goes up, the price of tires goes up too," Vicki Holt said.

Andy Holt sees another effect on his business from higher fuel prices.

Customers "are coming in with tires that are more worn out," he said. "They used to replace them sooner. With the price of gas going up, they're getting all they can out of them.

"I hate to see any more tax, but I guess that's part of life," Andy Holt said.