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CHARLESTON -- Coles County will likely end a decades-old trash drop off program because of the recent discovery that it might need a state permit.

Other, similar programs are being considered but the permit requirement and other issues will lead to the halt of what's commonly known as the trash "roll off" program, a county official said.

Kelly Lockhart, executive director of the county Regional Planning and Development Commission, said funding for the program is "nearly depleted" and it might have been halted two years from now, anyway.

With the roll off program, trash bins were placed in various parts of the county on certain Fridays of each month, available for use for county residents.

The program dated to the mid-1970s when not all rural residents in the county could get trash hauling service at their homes, which Lockhart said isn't the case now.

He said the commission, which oversees solid waste issues for the county, found that state regulations might affect the program while exploring new funding sources for the program.

The Coles County Board Health and Safety Committee suspended the program last month and the commission referred the issue to county State's Attorney Brian Bower for legal research, Lockhart said.

On Tuesday, Bower said he found that the trash bin drop off sites could be considered waste disposal sites, which need permits from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

Bower said a "supervising entity" would have to apply for a permit, though he wasn't sure what government body would have to do that. The county and the participating townships share in the cost of the program.

On a rotating basis on Fridays during each month when the program operated, bins were placed in Humboldt, Cooks Mills, Trilla, Lerna, Charleston, Hutton, Ashmore, Oakland and Bushton.

Lockhart said the cost of the program was $42,000 annually, half of which came from the county's tipping fee fund and the other half from the townships.

The county tipping fee is levied on the amount of waste taken to licensed county disposal facilities. Much of the money in the fund was collected when landfills operated in the county, but those have been closed for several years.

Lockhart also said there were problems with illegal items such as tires and electronics being placed in the trash bins.

Also, the program was supposed to be for Coles County residents' use but township officials said they found evidence that people from outside the county were also using the bins, Lockhart also said.

Though commercial trash pickup service is now available throughout the county, it's likely the roll off program helped reduce the amount of illegal trash dumping in rural areas, he added.

The planning commission recently renewed the solid waste advisory committee it had in place to work on waste requirements, and Lockhart said the group will help the commission try to find alternatives for the roll off program.

One possibility is a "clean up day" in the locations where the bins were placed, he said. State regulations allows those three times a year in a single location without a permit, he said.

Lockhart said electronics recycling and hazardous waste disposal events could also be considered.

Contact Dave Fopay at 217-238-6858. Follow him on Twitter: @FopayDave.

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