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EARLIER: Waste talk turns to home pickup

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Community meetings continue on new facility, possible fee

By Lisa King and Todd Martin

In the midst of a series of community meetings to garner public input about a new convenience center proposal for solid waste, officials have been doing legwork on the concept of providing home garbage service for residents.

Rusty Newton, Shelby County’s deputy-judge executive and chair of the 109 Board, the entity in charge of solid waste disposal in the county, said he met Friday with Magistrate Tony Carriss to prepare for a meeting Feb. 25 with the Shelby County Fiscal Court’s Legislative Committee.

Carriss had announced last week, during a meeting of fiscal court, that the committee, which is composed of magistrates Michael Riggs, Hubie Pollett, Mike Whitehouse and himself, would meet with 109 Board officials to look into the concept of countywide trash pickup.

They plan to study other counties’ ordinances, including Henry County, to see how they handle the issue.

Meanwhile Newton and 109 Board members have continued a tour of the county to meet with residents about the board’s plan for a new solid-waste facility on Windhurst Way in Shelbyville. The board purchased 25 acres there last year for $655,000 and plans a $2.5 million complex. Officials have said there may be a 3-to-5-cent usage fee for disposal of household garbage.

Three public meetings were held last week, at Simpsonville, Shelbyville, and Finchville, and the tour wrapped up Monday in Bagdad and Tuesday in Waddy.

 

Home pickup requested

The four people who attended Finchville’s meeting were fairly complacent with the proposal, but Bagdad’s larger crowd of about 30 people were mostly vehemently against the measure, especially the usage fee that people would have to pay to use the facility, because the Convenience Center is used by so many out-of-county residents.

Newton told residents that the 109 Board is looking into using a prepaid card as a way to drop off trash, and residents attending the meetings also have been bringing up that the county could just provide trash collection for everyone instead of building a new facility.

"The 109 Board does not have the authority to do curbside pickup," Newton said. "That is something the fiscal court would have to decide, and they could at some point."

Newton said when he met with Carriss on Friday, the day after the Finchville meeting, they collaborated on what information that they would need for the Feb. 25 meeting to discuss possible other options to dispose of solid waste.

“We’re just trying to gather information right now,” he said. “It’s not anything that we can hang our hat on. Until we get with that committee to see how they want to pursue it, or if they want to pursue it, there’s really not a whole lot to talk about just yet.”

 

Why new facility planned

Newton explained to residents all of the meetings why a new facility is necessary to combine the Recycling Center on 7th Street and the Convenience Center at Waddy. He cited increasing amounts of trash, a central location and traffic and railroad congestion that cause safety issues at Waddy.

"This would be a one-stop location and would make for a safer facility," he said. "That is the whole concept of the plan."

But Newton also has said individuals who would use the new facility to drop their trash may also have to pay for that purpose, which has residents concerned about that fee and how it would work.

Newton explained that property owners currently pay a tax of 3.5 cents per $100 of assessed property value to solid-waste disposal. But users are far more numerous than those who are taxed, and the new facility would require a usage fee that would not apply to recycled items or to yard trash.

"We feel like the pay-as-you-go is the fairest method," he said.

Residents at the meetings have expressed concern about whether the usage fee would be closer to 3 cents or to 5 cents. "Right now, it would be nearer to three cents," he said.

Residents also raised questions about the costs to commercial and industrial businesses, and Newton said that everyone would be charged the same usage fee, whether a commercial or residential customer.

People are have been asking if board members expect that the new facility would generate more recycling by residents.

 

Recycling ideas

Newton said one goal of creating the new facility is to encourage more recycling.

"We hope this would be an incentive for that," he said.

Newton said that last year, the county shipped 4,000 tons of trash to the landfill in Anderson County.

Val Shirley, solid waste interim director, who has attended the meetings, said that the majority of what people in Shelby recycle is newspapers and aluminum cans.

"It's amazing what people in this county drink," he said at the Finchville meeting, making a face as the residents laughed.

He held up a kitchen-sized trash bag about three-quarters full and said, "This is the average-sized bag of trash that most people bring in, and it would cost about fifteen cents."

Some suggestions that have came out of the meetings were to issue a card only to county residents, to charge only out-of-county people to use the facility and to charge Shelby residents a fee only if they go over a predetermined amount of trash per month.

Some residents also wanted to look for ways to increase recycling, possibly by adding self-service spots around the county.

Newton said the board could consider those ideas.