By Greg Bird
Representatives from Poff Carting, the company providing garbage collection service for McCreary County, met with county officials Tuesday to discuss possible action on enforcing the mandatory clause in the county ordinance covering solid waste collection.
Judge Executive Doug Stephens stated he met with Gerald Poff, owner of Poff Carting, and Todd Hopper, CEO of the company, to determine a possible course of action in increasing participation in garbage collection. County Attorney Conley Chaney and Sheriff Randy Waters also were in attendance.
Eight months in to the five-year contract between Poff Carting and the County, participation rates still lag and resistance to the mandatory clause in the contract has been a point of contention for citizens and elected officials alike.
The Solid Waste Collection and Disposal Ordinance was passed last August, did not contain the word “mandatory” in the language, but did explicitly state it would be illegal for anyone to fail to have solid waste collected in any manner not outlined in the ordinance.
At the time the ordinance passed, Carl Townes of Scott Solid Waste chastised the Fiscal Court for not enforcing their own laws on garbage collection in the past, and felt the new ordinance would do little unless they took enforcement seriously.
“In my opinion you are in the same boat you were for the past three years or so,” Townes said at the time. “You’re not enforcing the ordinance, it will be hard to get a company to bid if you are not going to enforce your own law.”
Scott Solid Waste did not win the bid to continue providing garbage collection when the bids were opened. Rather, Poff Carting was awarded the contract after providing lower weekly rates for collection than SSW.
The contract between Poff Carting and McCreary County contains language explicitly calling for every household and business in the county to participate in garbage collection.
Clause 18 of the contract states: “Consistent with KRS 109.310 and county ordinance 830.6, all owners and occupants of residential property in the county and all commercial business establishments shall be required to participate in the solid waste collection provided in this agreement. Participation is mandatory.”
The contract allows for Poff Carting to provide lists of non-participating households, or delinquent accounts, to the County Attorney and/or law enforcement, for possible legal action. It further states it would be the responsibility of the County to pursue those accounts to either encourage subscribing for collection, or prosecution.
A list of approximately 200 names and addresses was provided to the County Tuesday. Judge Stephens said he would look over the list and confirm the households identified are occupied, and will send a letter reminding those citizens that it is mandatory for collection and encouraging them to sign up for service or face possible prosecution.
If non-compliance continues, the County Attorney could subpoena those individuals to court, or citations could be issued.
The county ordinance calls for penalties of $10 per day, up to $500 for each conviction for non-compliance.
The ordinance also states the county may choose to employ a code enforcement officer to enforce the garbage ordinances, as well as other ordinances, such as the business license.
Judge Stephens proposed creating a code enforcement position at a Fiscal Court meeting earlier this year, but the notion was met by strong resistance by Magistrates and did not come to a motion for a vote.
It is a possibility that Poff Carting could take legal action of their own against the County if officials do not uphold their end of the contract.
When Poff Carting took over service from Scott Solid Waste in January there were only 2,900 customers signed up for service. After five months that number had grown to 3,800, but it is still short of the minimum number needed for Poff Carting to pay a franchise fee to the county.
According to the contract if 4,200 residential customers have signed up for service, Poff Carting would pay 5.5 percent of collections back to the county as a fee. If the subscribers grow beyond 5,200 that fee increases to 6.5 percent.
With the subscriber total below the threshold, the County has no additional revenue stream from solid waste to support other waste management programs, such as recycling and road cleanups.