Officials still wrestling with garbage woes

Published 6:00 am Thursday, March 23, 2006

Following a continued lack of cooperation by residents inseparating garbage and trash, Brookhaven officials are againlooking at the city’s pickup policy and ways to handle theproblem.

Solid Waste Superintendent Willie Smith raised garbage concernsduring last night’s city board meeting. He said it cost the city$2,600 in February to dispose of garbage items that had been pickedup by the city’s trash crews.

“We’re not in the garbage business,” Smith said.

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Smith said his department is short on manpower and citizens arenot cooperating in separating trash, which is picked up by citycrews, and garbage, which is handled by a private contractor. Whenconfronted about the situation, Smith cited citizen comments about”paying taxes” for the service and the recent increase in solidwaste fees.

“They don’t bother to separate. They just throw everything outthere,” said Smith.

Trash may be disposed of at the city’s rubbish fill. However,any trash that is mixed with garbage is considered garbage and thecity has to pay to have it hauled to an approved landfill.

In raising the solid waste fee last year from $12 a month to $16a month, aldermen agreed to have city crews pick up larger itemsthat were previously handled on a fee basis. Officials, however,said their intent was not to have city crews pick up trash andgarbage items mixed together.

“We expect it to be separated so you guys can do your jobs,”said Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell.

Ward Four Alderwoman Shirley Estes said the situation was onewhere officials “had given an inch and (citizens) took a mile.”Maxwell advised Smith to call aldermen when he has a problem andsee if the board member can help.

“Put the burden back on us,” Maxwell said.

Mayor Bob Massengill said he would work with Smith and othercity officials to develop a revised policy regarding trash andgarbage pickup. He said the policy would be presented at the nextboard meeting.

“We’ll come up with a game plan to put into effect,” the mayorsaid.

In other business Tuesday, Brookhaven Recreation DepartmentDirector Terry Reid voiced concerns about deteriorating conditionsat the Lincoln County Multi-Use Facility.

In a joint venture with the county, the city had overseen thefacility for the last eight years. Reid said frequent use andeveryday wear and tear are taking a toll on the facility.

“We’re going to have to put some more money into it to bring itback up to standard,” Reid said.

Reid said the facility was used 161 times last year. He saidbookings are now being taken for dates into 2008.

Another suggestion from Reid was to look at raising the ratesfor using the facility. Currently, there are rates for governmentaland commercial use for various parts of the facility.

Massengill suggested a joint meeting with county officials todiscuss facility operations. He hoped to set that up within thenext 30 days.

Following up on Reid’s comments, Ward Six Alderman Buddy Allensaid facility fees should be enough to cover expenses, maintenanceand other operational costs. He indicated that applied to not onlythe Multi-Use Facility, but other city operations as well.

“We need to get to the point where some of our stuff isself-sufficient,” Allen said.

Also last night, aldermen approved a new ordinance to keep heavytrucks off North Second Street and Main Street. The ordinance issimilar to one approved for First Street after the street was paveda few years ago.

Massengill informed aldermen of an upcoming $1.2 millionMississippi Department of Transportation plan to mill and paveHighway 51 between Highway 84 and north Brookhaven. The mayor saidthe work would be done before August.