If trash collection costs go up in your town…would you be willing to haul the stuff to a landfill yourself to save a few bucks?

It's a question many Garden state residents could be facing in the not-too-distant future.

After learning that landfill fees are scheduled to go up 7 dollars a ton in Sussex County at the beginning of next year, Bill Dressel, the Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, says an increase in landfill fees - in any part of the state - will likely have a price hike ripple effect across the Garden state.

He says "in these tough economic times, every dollar is accounted for and there's not an alternate revenue source to offset increases - so you have to look at - how are you going to be able to absorb that increase?...you're going to have to look at either reducing services , or increasing taxes, or a combination of both."

He says when it comes to disposing of garbage "there are health regulations, you're dealing with public safety, public health - it's something that government has traditionally been responsible for…but if it gets to the point where the trash can't be picked up - then you have to start looking at…what are your options?...do we go back to having a scavenger kind of a system - and looking at what those costs are…one of the reasons why municipalities have undertaken a public system of trash removal is because of the regulations that the state has imposed through the Department of Health - they have to be certified, regulated landfills- there has to be standards with regard to trash removal - there has to be recycling - so this is a highly regulated area."

Dressel adds "if you do away with the current system of providing trash removal, you have to also look at the rules and regulations that are in place on local governments and try to come up with an alternate system that will meet the requirements of the law and also be cost effective…but everything is on the table…looking at frequency of trash collection is certainly something that should be looked at and I'm sure has been looked at… and determining as to whether or not it makes sense for their residents to be able to remove their trash and take it to a landfill."

He points out "in communities where you have a strong population of seniors, that does not make sense… it does not make sense to ask senior citizens to put garbage in the back of their car and drive it to a landfill…but there is no easy answer- there is no one fix to these kinds of situations."

Dressel says if landfill costs go up, many towns may give residents the option to haul away their own garbage.

"I'm sure they will be doing that" he says, "with an eye towards meeting the rules and regulations that the various state agencies impose upon them…but ou have to exercise some common sense in this, so you have to be able to develop options that are going to be sensitive to your taxpayers and citizens- what their needs are…there are going to have to be some tough choices that are going to have to be made and quite frankly what is happening in one region of our state could very well be the harbinger of news to come in another region of the state…I think that we're seeing local officials thinking outside the box as far as what the traditional service provisions have been…there's no one simple solution to very difficult budgetary problems."