Commissioners vote in committee to go back to quarterly garbage fees

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Macon-Bibb County Commissioners spent the day talking trash–or rather–county policies on trash after Tuesday’s committee meeting. They voted on several ordinances including one that would mean going back to a quarterly billing system.

There was a lot of garbage on the agenda for Tuesday–or at least talks about garbage. From changes in the way it’s being billed to how much of it the county is paying to have taken away, the committee of the whole took its issues to a vote.

Trash has been a touchy topic in Macon-Bibb over the last year or as one commissioner put it, “It’s much more than an inconvenience. It’s a hard ship,” said District 4’s Mallory Jones.

“We’ve heard from countless people who came to the chamber and spoke to us. We’ve all gotten emails talking about what a hardship it is,” he continued.

The cause was a switch from the old quarterly billing system to an annual lump sum that many residents said they couldn’t afford.

“If it happens to me, how do you think it will be for people on fixed incomes? How can they do it?” District 6 Commissioner Joe Allen asked Mayor Reichert during the meeting.

Led by Commissioners Jones and Allen, the committee of the whole voted 7 to 1 to go back to quarterly billing, while still making use of the new system. It was a decision Mayor Robert Reichert didn’t support.

“There was a problem and we were losing revenue hand over fist, as well as trying to keep up with ‘on/off service’,” he told the committee in his recommendation not to revert back to quarterly billing.

But that was just one of the problems discussed regarding fees for garbage.

“Trash is piling up. There are piles and piles and piles,” said Commissioner Elaine Lucas.

The other problem was whether the county was willing to pay Advanced Disposal more dollars per household for additional bulk waste garbage pick up services.

“If we’re going to increase the amount of money–tax payer money–I want to this entity then they’re going to have to do the job. Now I want to know who’s monitoring that and make sure it’s being done,” Lucas said.

But they were services both the mayor and Solid Waste Director Kevin Barkley say the county’s department couldn’t take on by itself with a staff shortage of 17 people and no equipment.

“The number of complaints is going to increase geometrically because Kevin doesn’t have the trucks and the manpower to get out there and even try to address it. He’s got two trucks that are trying to pick up all of this stuff and can’t do it,” Mayor Reichert explained.

After a lot of back and forth, they eventually passed the ordinance to approve additional funding in a 5-2 vote.

Advanced Disposal is currently picking up trash and yard debris that doesn’t exceed two cubic yards or 75 pounds. Anything more than that gets left. The funding for the additional garbage services would come out of the $240 residents are already paying so it wouldn’t be an additional burden on tax payers.

This would take the cost for the county’s trash pick up from Advanced Disposal from $6.5 million annually to $8.7 million. They’ll have a final vote on both the changes next Tuesday during Commission.