In split vote, County chooses curbside pickup option for sanitation over raising millage rate

Published 2:44 pm Thursday, April 13, 2023

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The Troup County Board of Commissioners narrowly approved moving forward with an option to contract with a sanitation service to provide curbside trash pickup.

The board approved “Option C,” as it was referred to in three public hearings leading up to the decision. The choice will have the county select one of three bids from private sanitation companies for an exclusive franchise contract to provide curbside trash service in the unincorporated areas of Troup County. That company will also operate up to four convenience centers.

No one will be mandated to utilize curbside pickup in the unincorporated area of the county, said County Manager Eric Mosley.

Virtually all of the residents during the public hearings voiced support for “Option A,” which would have changed nothing with sanitation and required an increase to the sanitation millage rate by 1.5 mills. Most residents would see a $64 to $167 increase to their annual property tax bill, far less expensive than the curbside pickup rates, which ranged from $300 to $361.80 annually.

One of the issues with Option A raised by County Commission Chairman Patrick Crews is that the county residents that live in LaGrange, Hogansville and West Point are already required to pay for curbside pickup, so they are currently paying twice and subsidizing sanitation for the unincorporated area of the county. Option A would’ve increased the burden on those citizens within the city limits.

The motion made by Commissioner Morris Jones will authorize the county manager to move forward with negotiating the contract with the sanitation company, which will be brought back to the county commissioners for final approval, likely on April 18.

Citizens will have the option to contract with the chosen sanitation provider for curbside pickup or not at all. Those who choose to not purchase the service will still be able to drop off their household garbage and bulk items at one of four convenience centers at a pay-as-you-throw rate.

Mosley recommended that the county contract with Martin Environmental Services from Dothan, Alabama. Under their bid, those who opt for curbside service would pay $31.50 monthly for pickup at their homes, $20 for an extra can and an extra $10 for backdoor pickup.

Older and disabled residents would be able to receive backdoor pickup at no extra charge with a doctor’s note.

The pay-as-you-throw charges would be $10 per 95-gallon cart or $9 per cubic yard for bulky items.

Residents with the service can also choose to not have a can to bring to the road for pickup and can drop off all their garbage at the convenience centers for free, plus up to5 cubic yards of bulk items per week.

The authorization from the commissioners will allow Mosley to negotiate the locations of the convenience centers run by Martin and the hours that they will be open.

The decision was not unanimous. Commissioner Ellis Cadenhead and Commissioner Lewis Davis voted against the measure.

“I still believe in the democratic process in it’s a firm belief. This affects my constituents, the majority of my constituents I think more than any other district. There are not very many amenities that the unincorporated area of Troup County can benefit from other than the convenience centers,” Cadenhead said. “The group at the public hearing has spoken out tremendously in favor of not changing the convenience centers, not reducing the convenience centers, and keeping the hours of the convenience centers. “They are still very much opposed to doing any change whatsoever.”

Davis echoed Cadenhead’s comments about amenities in the county and said his district also does not support the change.

“I want everyone to know, every man sitting up here takes this very seriously. These decisions are not made easily. They know the effect that this is going to have on the community. But I want you to know, at the end of the day, I was elected by my district, and I have to do what my district tells me to do,” Davis said before voting against the change.

Commissioner Jones said they have been debating sanitation for years trying to get to an option that will benefit every citizen in the county, including those who pay county taxes in the city.

“I was amazed at the public hearings that we’ve had that some citizens didn’t realize that some of us who live in the city, as well as those working in the county, pay a county tax,” Jones said, noting they are currently paying double for sanitation.

Crews noted that businesses who contract for sanitization services —including those in both the county and cities— are also paying twice for sanitation, which affects recruiting businesses to Troup County.

“From my position, I have to try to look at what’s best for our entire community. And again, personally, it was up to me, I’d probably just keep on doing what I’m doing right now, but I do feel a responsibility to look out for what is considered in the best interest of our entire community,” Crews said.

Ultimately, the commissioners approved “Option C” with a 3-2 vote. Commissioner Jimmy McCamey joined Crews and Jones in voting for the sanitation change, with Cadenhead and Davis in opposition.