Talking Trash: Board of Commissioners address county’s litter issue; say possible solution lies in citizens’ involvement

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Troup County Board of Commissioners started their Tuesday work session addressing a resident’s concern about the litter issue affecting county roadways and residential areas.

Chris Cleveland, who said he lived in the county’s unincorporated area, met with council members to discuss the continuing litter issue he had witnessed in his neighborhood as well as other areas throughout Troup County. Cleveland explained that he manages a horse farm on Mooty Bridge Road and has to pick up trash on the road every two days or so.

“I rode around the county for two-and-a-half hours yesterday, staying off the state and federal highways, and I was amazed by how much trash [there was,]” he said. “Some areas were worse than others. Towns Road is terrible, the North Davis Road, which is heavily traveled [on] is a disgrace to this county.”

Cleveland pinpointed the closing of the correctional facility in 2017, which cut the number of available inmates in work release to pick up roadway litter from almost 300 to roughly 40, as the catalyst for the increased litter buildup.

“We did that, of course, to save money, but we lost our trash pickers when we did that,” he said. “Frankly, the approach we’re taking right now is not working. The trash is worse.”

Currently, the county has a contract with a company that picks up trash alongside their ground maintenance duties. Board Chairman Patrick Crews said the company picks up litter on approximately 522 miles, or one round, of county road.

County Manager Eric Mosley further said the county budgets for the company to complete four mowings in the county per year and pick up any litter on-site as part of the process.

The county pays the company per mile. The company is paid $29 per mile of trash pickup and $144 per mile of mowing. Overall, the company is paid about $15,000 of trash pickup and $75,000 of mowing in one round of maintenance around the county.

“On a good week, they’re picking up 100 miles of road,” Mosely said.

Cleveland said he witnessed crews mowing over trash when they were maintaining Towns Road in late November, creating more litter in the process. He said the trash from this incident was still there.

Commissioners, while accepting the issue, noted the litter problem overall was a societal problem.

“I know how bad this trash problem is, but in my opinion, it’s our responsibility to pick it up, but it’s the citizens’ responsibility not to throw it out,” Commissioner Lewis Davis said. “We have a lot of citizens in the county, I hate to say, that just don’t care.”

Cleveland said he’d like to push for more public awareness on the litter issue’s environmental and residential impact and the financial costs it implements from taxpayers’ standpoint.