WHAT WE THINK: Should Shelby County magistrates be OK with expense of new garbage facility?

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They will have to sign off on the $3.2 million expense of the 109 Board's new center.

We were dismayed last week when there was a meeting of Shelby County Fiscal Court that did not include mention of the decision by the group’s Legislative Committee to step away from the prospect of creating curbside garbage and recycling pickup for residents.

Surely the magistrates realize that, based on new legislation passed this spring in the General Assembly, they will become responsible for signing off on the budget of the county’s 109 Board, the entity that is responsible for garbage and recycling in the county.

That means magistrates will have final say-so on the 109 Board’s plan to spend at least $3.2 million of taxpayers’ money to build a solid-waste and recycling collection facility that is designed for the 1960s culture and not the sort of future any ecologically sensitive and responsible region would embrace.

The 109 Board already has spent nearly $700,000 on property purchase and facility design plans, so what’s a few dollars more, right?

We understand there are segments of the public that vocally combat such a concept as a door-to-door service, a concept successful in so many thousands of jurisdictions around the country.

We understand that lack of progress is fine in some corners.

We understand some residents aren’t concerned with doing the responsible thing and recycling.

We understand there are misgivings about intrusion of government and a fear of paying more than currently is being paid.

But what we can’t quite grasp is that the taxpayers in Shelby County believe that their money should be spent on what we consider to be a “Trash Mahal.”

If you are a property owner, are you happy with the collective of:

  • Paying  3.5 cents per $100 of assessed value in tax money for this new property and facility.
  • And paying up to $25 a month to have your trash picked up curbside?
  • And having to load up what you don’t want picked up and paying for the fuel and time required to transport it to the center to dump or – heaven forbid – recycle.
  • And having to sort the recycling yourself and discard numerous recyclable items the county won’t take.
  •  And then – on top of all of that – paying an additional 3 to 5 cents per pound to dump your trash that you don’t want picked up curbside?

Isn’t that government intervening to a pretty significant extent?

It would seem to us a simple curbside service would be a lot more acceptable and also could lead to the reduction or redirecting of that property tax rate.

Of course, we also could just get rid of all that and let people go back to burning their trash and tossing their larger items in a creek down the road. Some still will do that, you know.

If you’re a magistrate, are you comfortable with allowing all of that?

We would suggest that not all magistrates are in agreement on this issue, but there has been no firm disclosure about why curbside service is being set by the curb, if you will.

What were the insurmountable issues? What were the deciding factors? Who brought pressure on the topic?

We don’t think it was solely the dozen or so residents who showed up to speak at the Legislative Committee’s most recent meeting, and we don’t think the three who spoke to the greatest extent carried all that weight, either. Do the magistrates really believe they represent all the residents in their county?

Are we better off than residents in Franklin, Henry, Spencer, Oldham and Jefferson counties?

We hear from readers who don’t want this issue dropped. We agree. We don’t think it should be.

We think doing the right thing never can be swept aside.

And, when time comes for signing off on the 109 Board’s budget and that $3.2 million and counting, we have to wonder if all seven magistrates will believe they are doing the right thing.

Their names will be on the bottom line of approval for spending money on an outdated idea – even if they don’t think it’s a good idea.