New this morning: Bill for tire fee advances

Photo by Gabriela Gonzalez

Photo by Gabriela Gonzalez

Atlanta - A bill moving through the General Assembly will keep Georgians paying $1 for every new tire they buy, but the money won't necessarily go for tire dump cleanups.

With Gov. Nathan Deal's backing, the House will likely vote soon on a landfill bill that renews the $1 tire cleanup fee for another three years.

In the past nine years, about two-thirds of the $57 million the fee has raised has been diverted to things other than cleanups because lawmakers needed the money to fill holes in the state budget.

Legislation creating the tire fee, which was first collected in 1992, intended the money for the Solid Waste Trust Fund for tire dump and other cleanups. But lawmakers say it's unlawful to designate such fees for things like cleanups without amending the Constitution.

Rep. Randy Nix, R-LaGrange, included the renewal of the $1-per-tire fee in a landfill bill he is sponsoring. He said he did so at the request of the Deal administration.

Deal needs the renewal because he is counting on the $6 million or so in revenue the fee brings in each year to help balance the budget. In only three of the past nine years has a majority of the fee money gone into the Solid Waste Trust Fund. Lawmakers said the money has been needed to pay for schools, public health care, prisons and other programs.

The Association County Commissioners of Georgia has complained for years about the raid on the trust fund, but it agreed not to oppose the renewal in hopes that it can work with the Deal administration to put more of the tire-fee money toward cleanups.