Board lowers trash pickup minimum

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, April 4, 2012

     City aldermen have lowered the minimum charge for city pickup of trash and rubbish from $100 to $25.

     Residential garbage rates for the disposal of bagged garbage remain unaffected. However, the city disposes of residential yard trash and some household appliances and rubbish for free unless it becomes excessive.  Excessive charges incur cost. The city does not pick up commercial debris for free.

     Ward Five Alderman D.W. Maxwell offered the motion to lower the minimum charge, and it passed with only Ward Six’s David Phillips and Ward One’s Dorsey Cameron dissenting.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

     The motion was offered following an executive session to discuss personnel matters and potential litigation.

     When asked why the matter was discussed in a closed door executive session, Mayor Les Bumgarner said in executive session, the board heard a private resident air a complaint about a specific employee of the Solid Waste Department related to charges the resident received for solid waste disposal.

     “I was trying to keep him from leveling accusations against the employee,” Bumgarner said immediately after Tuesday’s meeting.

     The mayor said incidental to that discussion, the minimum charge for solid waste came up.

     “I don’t think a lot of aldermen knew what the minimum was,” Bumgarner said.

     City attorney Joe Fernald offered a similar comment while discussing the issue Wednesday morning.

     “The issue came up but we did not debate it,” Fernald said. “It came up in passing. Maxwell said he wanted to change it, and I told him it wasn’t for executive session.”

     A further problem, Bumgarner said, is that some residents have already been charged below the minimum. That included the resident offering a complaint Tuesday night.

     “He was charged $45, below the minimum, and he was still complaining about that,” Bumgarner said.

     That illuminates a remark made by Maxwell when offering his motion Tuesday night.

     “At least this gives them discretion rather than doing something illegal that Joe (Fernald) says is now going on,” said Maxwell, speaking of a new minimum charge.

     In the brief debate about the issue following the executive session, Fernald objected to lowering the minimum price.

     “In my opinion, you are giving someone a pricing authority they ought not have,” Fernald said. “You are giving someone the discretion to charge what he wants.”

     Fernald suggested inconsistency in charges for solid waste disposal might only grow worse with a lowered minimum.

     When contacted Wednesday morning, Solid Waste Director Willie Smith admitted his department has charged below the previous minimum of $100 at times.

     Smith said he supported the lowered minimum and said it would make it easier for his department to work with the public.

     Smith, who was present in the executive session, also said discussion of the minimum charges grew out of complaints a resident voiced about the charges he received.