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WHAT WE THINK: There is a the true mission for Shelby County's curbside garbage plan

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Rusty Newton put the project in correct perspective

With two important meetings this week among officials trying to develop curbside garbage pickup in Shelby County, the mission statement for this project has emerged from the man whose public meetings gave this concept momentum.

That would be Rusty Newton, chair of the 109 Board, the entity that is in charge of solid-waste pickup in the county. This is what Mr. Newton told officials last week when they gathered to discuss a joint contract between the Shelbyville City Council and Shelby County Fiscal Court:

“If everything [garbage, recycling, bulk items] could be picked up at curbside, then we [the 109 Board] could go out of business.”

That should be the goal of everyone here, and taxpayers and residents shouldn’t abide any compromise.

The county must provide curbside trash, recycling and bulk-item pickup for all. It’s the total picture, the total answer, the total future in our county.

The 109 Board’s plan to build a glorious collection facility would become unnecessary. Millions would be saved, and, best of all, with a reduced role, the 3.5 cents per $100 in tax money that the 109 Board receives could be reduced, giving property owners sufficient coins with which to pay for the new service.

There should be no other goal in these discussions, given the obvious mandate to use the greatest number of households to develop the best possible rate for residents.

And we will reiterate an important point: There is no responsible decision that excludes recycling. Otherwise, the 109 Board has to maintain facilities and taxation – possibly growing it – and, more importantly, we are continuing to open our county for future pollution and detriment.

In fact, if we were making the decision about the new service, we would charge more to households that did not recycle, so incumbent do we think this process is for our future.

All of this nuance is an important statement about the entire project. We were elated to read the words of Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty about the city’s commitment to the service and to working with the county.

We were amazed that two meetings were scheduled this week to put this on a faster track.

We are empowered by the cooperation between the two governments.
We were impressed to see that two potential contractors attended the meeting and offered to provide sample contracts – albeit unofficially and not relevant to the required bidding process.

The only issue that remains appears to be an appropriate billing process, and we have counsel on that, too: Simply make the service part of the property tax bill. That ensures that it is paid without hassle, that the money is deposited and that its cost can be offset by the reduction that would come from the 109 Board.

That would be clean, simple and forward-thinking, just like the service that is being considered.

Yes, the momentum on this project is breathtaking, and we encourage it to continue.

Surely that should be much simpler now that Mr. Newton has provided a very clear mission.