By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – A long-standing, informal policy that allowed residents in the county who also have a business with a commercial garbage account to opt out of county garbage pickup will no longer be allowed.
The decision was made at Monday’s Board of Supervisor meeting in Water Valley following a discussion about the exemptions, which apparently were contrary to the county’s garbage ordinance. The issue surfaced after garbage cans were delivered in recent weeks to residents who are not utilizing the county service.
Two factors were cited in the change – ensuring that all county residents are treated equally and the cost for the county to provide curbside garbage pickup, which often runs in the red.
“It costs us almost a half-million dollars a year,” District 5 Supervisor Gaylon Gray noted during the discussion, referring to the $40,000 monthly bill the county pays Waste Management for garbage pickup in the county. Board President Cayce Washington also explained that the county loses almost $10,000 each year, a deficient that has been a recurring topic around the board table primarily because of the difficulty in collecting the monthly payment from customers. The county pays $12.03 per month for each can Waste Management picks up, and bills $13 per month to each customer.
“It is my understanding that we have passed some cans out to some of them who have businesses, do y’all want to look at exempting those folks?” Washington asked as the matter surfaced Monday.
“We need to treat everybody the same,” Gray answered.
“I have an individual in my district who currently pays three garbage bills at three different businesses or residences that he owns in the county. He currently does not have a can at his home… he puts his garbage in the back of his truck and takes it to one of those three locations. He doesn’t want a can and apparently there are many others,” District 3 Supervisor Lee McMinn said.
“That’s come up, I am throwing that out there for discussion,” Lee McMinn added.
Lee McMinn also questioned the possibility of adjoining homeowners sharing one can as possible scenarios discussed during the meeting.
“That would be contrary to the ordinance because you have different generators,” Board Attorney John Crow explained.
Initial options discussed including making a determination for an exemption from the garbage service on a case-by -case basis, which would mean each request would be determined by the entire board. A second option discussed was leaving the decision up to each individual supervisor on how the ordinance is enforced in his district.
“Do we vote on a case-by-case basis or leave it up to the individual supervisor for his beat?” Washington asked.
“Main thing is that we want to abide by the ordinance. Number two, we want to make sure people aren’t throwing their garbage in the ditch somewhere, or burning it” Lee McMinn continued. “The guy I talked to is definitely not throwing his trash in the ditch.”
Washington noted that some people in the county, especially elderly people living on a fixed income, struggle to pay the monthly bill.
“For the business owners, myself included, we need to scratch up that $13 a month. That’s my humble opinion,” Washington said, also explaining earlier in the meeting that he also previously did not have a can before taking office because he had a commercial garbage account at his business.
“Everybody else agree?” Lee McMinn asked, prompting an affirmative nod from each board member.
“So we are going to make sure that everybody who has a mailbox in Yalobusha County also has a garbage can,” McMinn asked. “All on the same page?” prompting another round of affirmation from the group.
“You are going to have some hearings on this,” Crow added, referring to potential fallout from the decision.
“We can’t keep bleeding money,” Gray said. “In another year, we are going to be renegotiating with Waste Management or another company.”
Gray was referring to the current contract with Waste Management, which expires next year. Last year officials with Waste Management indicated their current bid was too low and they needed more money to continue serving the county.
“But the more cans that are picked up per mile of road, hopefully the cheaper our price will be,” Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn also noted about the cans that will be added in the county.