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Garbage Transition Brings Glitches

By David Howell

WATER VALLEY – Collecting garbage and collecting past due garbage bills was the top topic during the “first Monday” board meeting in Water Valley.
    The discussion centered around the Transition period as the garbage contract with R.E.S. expired at the end of March and Waste Management started picking up garbage at almost 3,000 homes across the county on April 1.
    The Transition issues actually started in the weeks leading up to change as county officials noted that R.E.S. had failed to pick up some customers across the county.
    Board President Tommy Vaughn told county officials that he had talked with a R.E.S. company official last week and requested the garbage be emptied in all of the R.E.S. cans. Vaughn also told the company to pick up  their cans remaining in the county.
    “He said, ‘we are through picking up garbage,’” Vaughn explained in Monday’s meeting..
    Vaughn said R.E.S. then worked Saturday removing the cans after he explained the final $30,000-plus monthly payment to R.E.S. could be withheld until all of the R.E.S. cans are emptied and the cans are removed.
    Supervisors agreed to back Vaughn and hold the payment to the company until the issues are resolved.
Can Problems
    One problem, identified in Monday’s meeting, was that having both a R.E.S. and Waste Management can at houses creates confusion as some people are continuing to put new garbage in the R.E.S. can.
    “Waste Management said they will pick up trash in the remaining R.E.S. cans the first week and maybe the second week,” reported Donna Massey, who oversees the county’s garbage department.
    But county officials urged anyone who has a R.E.S. can not to use it, instead using the Waste Management can while they wait for all of the R.E.S. cans to be removed.
    “If it wasn’t for Waste Management picking up R.E.S. cans, we would have a mess,” Massey added.
Route Confusion
    Another issue discussed Monday was making sure garbage customers know what day their garbage will be emptied. While many customers will have the same pickup day, others will see a different pickup day as Waste Management changed to a five-day a week pickup.
    Massey said that Waste Management initially planned to place stickers on each new can notifying the customer of their pickup day.
    “Then people started taking the new cans up to their houses and Waste Management couldn’t put the stickers on them,” Vaughn added.
    Massey said Waste Management was working to send letters out last weekend to each garbage customer in the county providing their pickup day.
Tracking The Cans
    Yet another problem identified in Monday’s meeting was linking each new can to a valid address and making sure the house is occupied.
    In some cases Waste Management has dropped cans at vacant houses, which means the county will still be charged each month for can pickup.
    Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn said Waste Management was putting a tracking number based on GPS coordinates at each house to help track each can.
    “But they said many of these houses do not have 911 numbers,” Amy McMinn explained.
    Supervisors agreed to check for extra cans in each beat to make sure Waste Management doesn’t have extra cans at vacant houses.
    “I’m personally gonna go through District 1,”  Vaughn explained.
    “We picked up a few already,” District 3 Supervisor Lee McMinn said.
    “We did too,” Vaughn said.
Holding Landlords Responsible
    The collection issue changed Monday only deals with rental property in the county and is not related to the change in garbage companies. With the change, landlords will now be responsible for the garbage bill if their renter does not pay. The landlord will be given notice when the bill is 90 days delinquent and will be granted a hearing, along with the renter.
    Board Attorney John Crow explained that the garbage bill continues to go to the renter, described as the trash generator.
    “If the generator doesn’t pay after 90 days, then you give the generator notice of hearing and you give the landowner notice of hearing,” Crow explained. “That’s when business picks up,” he added.
    If the issue isn’t resolved in the hearing, the license tags for both the renter and landowner will be flagged. This means the tag cannot be renewed until the past due amount is paid.
    Revolving renters at some areas in the county prompted the discussion earlier this year and ultimately led to the change Monday.
    “The problem really began when people moved out and nobody picked the can up. Then when the next person moved in the house, they were automatically getting free garbage because the bill was still in the first renter’s name,” District 5 Supervisor Frank “Bubba” Tillman explained.

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