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County looks for way to deal with new $72,000 garbage bill

Solid waste concerns got Lincoln County supervisors’ attentionMonday as the board pondered how to pay a $72,000 bill for backgarbage pick-up service and considered exemptions for some seniorcitizens.

BFI has requested an additional $72,000 after a recent housesurvey revealed the service was picking up garbage at more homesthan the county was being billed.

“I would think we owe it,” said District 1 Supervisor CliffGivens. “We ought to pay it.”

The survey showed garbage being picked up at approximately 8,900units while the county was being billed for only 7,783 units. Theback billing request covered the period from January 2001 toFebruary 2002, but the old house count had been in effect since1998 or 1999, county officials said.

County Administrator David Fields said BFI had agreed to spreadthe back payment over a two-year period, which would meansupervisors would have to come up with an additional $36,000 ayear. That would be on top of the garbage pick up contract based onthe higher house count, Fields said.

Supervisors elected to contact BFI and see if they would spreadthe back payments over four years.

In other garbage matters, Givens advocated exempting citizenswho are 85 years or older and live alone from the monthly fees.Givens’ suggestion met with resistance from the board.

“I’d love to exempt them all, but I don’t know how you’d draw aline,” said District 3 Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson.

District 2 Supervisor Bobby J. Watts said there are many peoplein the county age 82-92. He said exempting them would force thecounty to go up on fees for everyone else.

“It just wouldn’t be the fair thing to do, and we couldn’t helpit,” Watts said.

District 4 Supervisor W.D. “Doug” Moak said the upcoming budgettime is when the board should look at the back payment request,exemptions and garbage fees. Givens urged that the board not putanything for garbage on property taxes because that would leaveabout 30 percent of citizens who own property paying for a servicethat all use.

Bob Allen, board attorney, urged supervisors to be consistentand have valid reasons for exemptions if they are granted. Theboard authorized Allen to prepare a list of current exemptions,such as for summer homes and hunting clubs, and post it in thesolid waste office.

In a related matter, Fields discussed some problems with 911 andutility companies that are connecting power to homes that do nothave valid 911 addresses. Fields said some residents were making uptheir 911 addresses and the power companies were not checking withthe county before connecting service.

Givens questioned whether the county had an ordinance governingthat situation. Allen said there may be one in the original 911ordinance, but he would have to check.

“If we don’t have it, there’s nothing saying we can’t do it,”Allen said.

Fields said 911 addresses play a role in solid waste servicesand inaccurate records could affect the county’s garbage billsituation.

Williamson said the county should adopt an ordinance requiringutility companies to check with the county before connectingservice. If that’s not possible, he suggested the supervisors’association pursue legislation to make utility companiesresponsible for 911 operation.

“There’s no way to keep records straight up here if they don’tabide by it,” Williamson said.

In other business during a brief meeting, supervisors voted toallow county employees to have July 5th off in addition to July4th. They said the Fourth is on a Thursday and Gov. Ronnie Musgrovehas signed a resolution giving state employees Thursday and Fridayoff.

Following the meeting, supervisors left for their stateassociation conference on the coast. Supervisors are expected to beback in the county on Thursday.