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Cheaper garbage bigger fines

Reduced rates and stricter penalties are at the heart of a new garbage ordinance presented to the McCreary County Fiscal Court Thursday night.

Judge Executive Doug Stephens presented the reworked ordinance during the regular meeting for a first reading of the proposed plan, which passed by a vote of 3-2.

A public hearing on the ordinance and a second reading must be held before it can be implemented as law, and no date on a public hearing has yet been scheduled.

The ordinance was introduced after the McCreary County 109 Board reminded the Court that the current contract with Scott Solid Waste expires at the end of the year, and urged the Fiscal Court to begin steps to pass a new ordinance with the added provision of making garbage collection “mandatory.”

With “universal” garbage service currently offered, and less than 50 percent participation in the program, the Solid Waste Board wanted stricter language to help combat garbage issues in the county.

The ordinance, as presented Thursday night, does not contain neither the word “universal” nor “mandatory,” but Judge Stephens believes that enhanced penalties in the law would make it easier to enforce – thus ensuring every resident and business in the County complies with the directive.

With the idea that enforcement would prompt 100 percent participation from the population, the costs for individuals and businesses have been reduced to reflect the increased usage of the program.

Single-family and multi-family rates dropped from $15 per month to $10, with an annual cost of only $110 with a year paid in advance.

The senior citizen rate was sharply decreased to only $5 per month ($55 annually with a year subscription) at the insistence of Magistrate Jason Mann.

Commercial rates also see a decrease: from $15 a month to $12 a month, but it appears dumpster rates remain the same as currently stand.

The $1 charge per bag for drop off at the Transfer Station has been eliminated from the ordinance, and replaced with a $60 annual fee for drop offs, but the resident must register with the County prior to usage. Judge Stephens noted only a few residents took advantage of the $1 a bag program over the past five years.

The most significant changes from the previous ordinance are in the sections outlining penalties and enforcement of the law.

Fines of $10 per day can be assessed for anyone found to have not complied with the ordinance. Those fines can accumulate up to $500 (in the previous ordinance the upper limit was $300), and the guilty party will also be required to pay all accumulated fees as well.

Enforcement of the ordinance falls not only on “McCreary County and all other law enforcement officers,” as was the language in the old law, but now also includes the McCreary County Solid Waste Coordinator and Emergency Management Director as officers who can assess fines and bring charges.

Magistrate Roger Phillips, who along with Magistrate O.L. Perry voted against the first reading, expressed his disbelief that any company would submit a bid under the terms presented in the ordinance.

“I can’t be for it,” Phillips said. “No company is going to go for the lower rates.”

If that were to be the case, Judge Stephens noted, the County would have the option of negotiating with any solid waste providing company on more agreeable terms.

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