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Garbage ordinance expected next month

With the current agreement on garbage service expiring in less than six months, the McCreary County Fiscal Court is hoping to have a new plan in place before the deadline – avoiding another last minute negotiation to extend the service again.

During Thursday’s meeting of the Fiscal Court Judge Executive Doug Stephens stated he had met with a committee to begin formulating a plan for the next garbage contract for the county.

Judge Stephens said there was some interest in the County taking over the collections itself, but noted there were concerns over the start-up costs for equipment. He noted that it may be a possibility for the County in the future, but wasn’t advocating such a move at that time.

One possibility, he proposed, would be for the County to take over billing for garbage service, which would allow them to conceivably bill every household and business in the county.

In such a scenario, the County would then contract directly with a garbage provider to collect the refuse. Stephens noted such a move would possibly result in lower rates for households, as participation would be, in effect, mandatory.

Magistrate Roger Phillips noted his issue with that proposal, namely the County would never be able to collect one hundred percent of the amount due, but would still owe the contract amount to the collection service – meaning a loss to the County.

The Fiscal Court voted to allow Judge Stephens to draft a request for proposals from prospective collection services, which he would present at the August meeting.

Garbage has been a thorny issue for the Court over the past several years.

The current contract, with Scott Solid Waste, was extended one year after the two parties failed to reach an equitable agreement for a five-year plan.

The Fiscal Court had passed an ordinance last October calling for lower rates from prospective bidders for the service. Scott Solid Waste was the only bidder, but their proposal was rejected as it failed to meet the desired pricing standards.

A second ordinance was considered, raising the cost to consumers, but the Court ultimately decided to negotiate with SSW to extend the contract in the hopes of drafting a new proposal.

The garbage company agreed to the extension, but with several caveats. Firstly, the company closed their office at the Stearns transfer station, opting to do all business out of their Oneida office. Secondly, the company was granted a lower franchise fee.

Finally, Scott Solid Waste Manager Carl Townes asked the Court to pursue actions to enforce the “mandatory” aspect of the ordinance. Townes said his company could no longer provide service at the current rate with such a low participation percentage. He stated that the County enforcing its own law would be a sign of good faith moving forward.

To date, there has been no indication that the Fiscal Court has been enforcing mandatory garbage collection.

Currently Scott Solid Waste provides residential and commercial pick-up, but does not maintain a local office. The County has taken over the transfer station in Stearns, and still offers a $1 per bag drop off for residents, but does not permit commercial drop offs.

In other actions Thursday night EMS and 911 Director Jimmy Barnett updated the Court that plans to upgrade all street and road signs in the county are moving forward. 911 and the County Road Department will combine efforts to replace missing signs and upgrade existing ones to comply with federal regulations on visibility and reflectivity before December 2018.

Barnett stated the Road Depart has about 400 signs in stock that will be wrapped in reflective material then a special machine will be purchased to put the road names on before installation.

Barnett said the cost would be about $5,000, which would come from the Road Department budget. There already is money allocated in the budget for signs, but the cost is expected to exceed the total. Barnett noted the federal requirement makes it vital that the county complies before the deadline.

The Court also approved a new pay rate for poll workers at the request of County Clerk Eric Haynes. Beginning January 1, 2018 workers manning polls for a full day during an election will be paid $125. The Court also accepted $3,169 in excess fees from Hayne’s office.

A resolution supporting the spay and neuter grant was also approved.

The McCreary County Fiscal Court will meet again on August 10 at 6:00 p.m.

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