County to modify mandatory garbage

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By Jonna Spelbring Priester

General Manager

If the bags of trash collected each week along county roads are any indication, mandatory garbage collection might be working.

Henry County Solid Waste Enforcement Officer Donnie Tipton told the fiscal court last week that to date, inmates have picked up 724 bags of trash, and a total of approximately 12 tons of garbage, along 113 miles of county roads so far this year. By the same time last year, Tipton said, inmates picked up 1,500 bags of trash.

He also told the court that each of the three illegal dumps identified by the state in the last three years have been cleaned up.

“We are making some headway with mandatory garbage,” he said. “We’re making some headway with the roads.”

Tipton’s report to the court came as the court was considering the first reading of the latest mandatory garbage ordinance.

In a 4-2 vote last week, the court approved the first reading of the ordinance which will have relatively minor revisions from the initial mandatory garbage ordinance set forth in 2004. Magistrates Mike Fisher and Jerry Beasley voted against the first reading.

Key among the changes are that landlords now will be responsible for garbage payments and free pickup will be available for residents who earn less than $800 per month.

Previously, the free pickup was available only to those making less than $600 per month.

Tipton told the court that there are a few residents who still do not pay their garbage bills, and indicated that part of that problem could be renters.

“For us to ever get control of garbage collection, the owner of the property needs to be responsible for the bills ... and add that on to the rent,” he said.

Henry County Judge-Executive John Logan Brent said the provision is critical because of the turnover rental properties experience.

“A lot of rental properties have two or three renters in a year’s time, and it’s impossible to enforce garbage pickup with renters,” he said.

Brent added that residents who qualify for the free pickup must apply for it through the Tri County Community Action Agency.

Brent noted Tuesday morning that a resolution to seek bids for garbage collection will include a provision that the franchise fee will be capped at the greater amount of 25 percent of the bill or $3.

That resolution also will include a provision that some county residents may be eligible for free pick up at their back doors, but will have to have a doctor’s note. Brent said during the court meeting that there will be a limit of 100 residents for that provision.

“Right now, only 35 people (are) on free service, which I’m sure is under-utilized,” he said.

In other business:

• The court agreed to aid New Castle with its sewer expansion project. Magistrate Nick Hawkins said that the $450,000 appropriated to the city by the state for the project will not be available until 2009. Hawkins said that a city representative said the city could borrow the money to get the project started if the court would pay the interest until the city receives its funding.

“We’re looking at less than $20,000 in a year’s time,” Hawkins said. “You all know as well as I do, the price of materials is going up, that $20,000 might look cheap. And, we might lose our prospect.”

Magistrate Wayne Gunnell suggested the county urge the city to look at borrowing money from the Kentucky Association of Counties.

Hawkins made a motion that the court agree to pay the interest rate, “contingent upon the city searching for the lowest interest rate, and for that to be approved,” with final approval to be made by the parks committee. The motion passed unanimously.

• In a 5-1 vote, with Magistrate David Brown voting against, the court agreed to allow road department employees to attend Roads Scholar and Roads Master programs offered through the state. Employees who complete the program would be eligible for raises — 75-cents for employees and $1.25 for the road department supervisor. The Roads Scholar program includes nine classes, and the Roads Master program would add three more to that list.

Gunnell expressed concern about the raises coming before the next budgeting period, but Road Supervisor Glenn Baxter said it would be at least January before employees could even get into the classes.

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