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County looks into allegation of free dumping

Citrus County is looking into allegations by a former employee that county landfill workers have allowed some people to dump garbage at the landfill without paying the appropriate fee.

The former employee has admitted she allowed someone to dispose of 2.87 tons of tires last month without collecting a fee, said Tom Dick, director of solid waste management. The person was driving a truck owned by a county employee.

For several years, there have been rumors that landfill workers have allowed other government employees to dispose of trash for free or at a reduced rate, Dick said. But he added that those rumors have never been substantiated and that he thinks last month's tire disposal was an isolated incident.

But acting County Administrator Steve Wylie expressed concern about the allegations and the perception they create. "We're examining the suggestions," he said.

As part of a review of the landfill operations, the county also will look at the accounting methods used at the landfill to ensure that all customers pay, he said.

In published accounts, Mary Martineau, the former employee, said she allowed someone to dispose of a trailer load of tires without charge on Jan. 25. The truck pulling the trailer belongs to a county public works employee, but he wasn't driving it, Dick said.

Martineau, who was a scale house operator, resigned shortly after the incident. Dick said she left to care for her parents in upstate New York. She has indicated a willingness to pay the county the $287 fee she should have collected for the tires, he said.

The landfill could monitor payments better by requiring the customer to show his or her receipt to the worker who physically accepts the garbage.

"Right now, we're almost solely relying on the person in the scale house to be an honest and trustworthy person who will apply the same rates to everyone," he said.