County looks to automate customer process at landfill
Staff looks to speed up customer experience
When residents previous used the county landfill, all charges were applied to paying customers manually. Now to speed up the process and make it easier for citizens to use, the Charles County Government is implementing an automated system for customer use.
Bill Shreve, the director of the department of public works, said the goal for the project was to improve customers’ experiences. Previously, he said, the county had an express line for customer use on Saturdays. But automation would “expedite that line ever y day.”
“We’re looking to make it a positive experience for people coming to the landfill,” he said.
Christy Klingman, the scale master for the department, said the high traffic volumes and the number of exceptions and measurements the department has to make can be overwhelming for the customer. The lines can get so long, she said, they extend to Billingsley Road.
Their staff brainstormed ideas and came up with an automated process through how they used their express lane for “flat rate” customers. But the staff was only available to do that on Saturdays, she said.
But with automation, the express line would be available each day, Klingman said.
When someone uses the landfill, there is normally confusion about what charges come with different types of vehicles, different materials being dumped and different drop off places. Automation will help relieve some of the confusion, Shreve said.
According to Klingman, the goal is to have the customer more involved. “No one knows better what they’re bringing into the landfill than the patron,” she said.
Customers will be able to select the type of vehicle they are driving, the material they are bringing into the landfill and where materials are being dumped, she said. However, the landfill will apply specific fees for materials being dumped and vehicles being used.
There will be an attendant available for any questions and concerns customers may have, she said. They will also be able to verify the accuracy of what is selected prior to it being disposed.
There will be two lanes of entry at the landfill, she said. One will be the express lane for patrons with a credit card and the other will be a scale lane for patrons with commercial vehicles, cash and trailers. Both will be automated, Klingman explained, but flat rate customers using the express lane will not need their material to be weighed.
The county’s new automated system will be unique in the state, Klingman said. “We’re taking this automation to a different level than we’ve seen. This will be customized to meet the needs of the Charles County patrons,” she said.
Shreve said the residential fee structure will remain the same. There will be a $5 flat rate for cars, vans and SUVs, which is a reduction from the $10 charged previously. There is a $15 flat rate applied to pickup trucks, he said.
Also, if a single item can fit into a 32-gallon garbage can and is non-hazardous, Shreve said it can be disposed of without a charge so long as it is not part of another load.
Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) said the process was “forward thinking” and took the customer into consideration.
Commissioner Bobby Rucci (D), who said he frequently uses the landfill, said he looks forward to seeing how the automated system works. In the past, he said, it has run well — and this new process should make it even better.
“The service there is impeccable,” Rucci said. “It’s nice, it’s a wonderful experience to go to the dump. I like it.”