Panola County Solid Waste

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 10, 2009

County will keep commercial, vows to add customers

By Billy Davis

Panola County Solid Waste is back in the commercial garbage business.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Supervisors on Monday, vowing to advertise the service and seek more commercial accounts, voted unanimously to continue serving business customers.

The county’s current business list includes 72 clients and 79 dumpsters.

Monday’s vote in Batesville came after supervisors voted last week to table bids to purchase a truck and dumpsters. The first order of business Monday was to reject those bids, an action that happened quickly with an anticipated board motion, a second, and unanimous vote.

With that decision behind them, supervisors postponed further discussion until they tended to other county business. When the board returned to the topic about 45 minutes later, supervisors voted to increase current commercial fees by 50 percent.

Increasing the fees was a necessary step to improve a revenue shortfall and because private competitors already charge much higher rates, supervisors said.

Figures prepared for Monday’s meeting by Administrator Kelley Magee showed that a 40-percent increase in fees, coupled with adding 32 more accounts, would mean a cash loss of $1,401 a month.

A 50-percent increase, and 32 additional accounts, would result in $700 a month in lost revenue.

“I motion for the 50-percent increase. It gets us closer to the black,” said Supervisor Bubba Waldrup, who had been among the first supervisors to recommend dropping the commercial service.

The board’s decision on Monday creates several challenges for Solid Waste, namely that a tight county budget will see a revenue loss into the near future.

Supervisors in December reviewed figures that showed a monthly revenue loss of $4,660, which prompted them to drop the service.

Secondly, the solid waste department is operating its residential and commercial service without a back-up truck.

Magee also reminded supervisors that Solid Waste would finance the purchase of commercial dumpsters, which take eight months to pay for.

The Solid Waste contract for commercial service is a one-year commitment.

But supervisors have said business owners pleaded with them to continue the commercial service, and the consensus Monday was that more customers would move to Solid Waste when their current contracts expire.

Some customers who were surveyed about a potential increase said they would pay more to stay with the county, Solid Waste clerk Jennifer Jackson told the board Monday.

Supervisors also accepted Magee’s suggestion that Solid Waste charge a $50 re-delivery fee for customers who drop the county service but later re-enter a contract. 

“That has hurt us in the past,” she said, referring to the expense of time and manpower.

“Yes it has,” agreed Solid Waste manager Jimmy Carlini.

Supervisors also dropped the idea of setting a three-year or four-year time limit.

“You’re either in it or you’re not. It’s a big investment,” said Magee.

The board also discussed purchasing and renting out “roll-off” dumpsters that are typically seen at construction sites.

“I’ve had a lot of calls,” said Jackson.

“I get requests to rent those dumpsters,” said road manager Lygunnah Bean.

“And they charge every day” for the roll-of dumpsters, said Carlini, referring to private companies.