Garbage collection fees going up in city
By Jeremy Weldon
The Panola County Board of Supervisors voted Monday to increase garbage collection fees for Batesville residents, and also raised dumpster pick-up rates $10 across the board.
Solid waste department manager Jennifer Jackson made the recommendation that all four, six, and eight yard receptacles have the $10 increase.
Under the new pricing schedule, four-yard dumpsters picked up once a week will increase to $85, six-yard dumpsters will be $100, and eight-yard dumpsters will be $130.
Discounts are applied per pickup for more than one collection per week.
County garbage trucks currently service about 310 dumpsters a week, she said.
County administrator Kate Victor made the recommendation that City of Batesville garbage customers have their monthly fee of $8.75 for weekly can pick-up increased to $10.
Victor said the last increase was in 2012 and rising operational costs make the increase necessary. She said that residents of other towns in the county are already paying $10 each for pick-up and the increase in Batesville is overdue.
Some 2,457 households and businesses in Batesville are currently serviced by Panola County Solid Waste.
There are 9,106 sanitation customers in Panola County, plus the Batesville, Courtland, Pope, Crenshaw, and Sardis customers. Those county customers pay $12 a month for weekly pickup ($15 for commercial customers). All others pay $10.
The City of Batesville collects garbage fees for the county by attaching the charges to customers’ monthly water and sewer bills.
In the county, however, residents pay monthly, or yearly, but there is no reliable system for collection from households who refuse to pay for garbage service.
Supervisors are allowed to attach unpaid garbage bills to car tag fees, and often collect old bills in that manner. Still, unpaid garbage bills accrued in past years amount to several hundred thousand dollars – money Panola County is likely to never see.
Jackson also reported to the Board of Supervisors about her department’s effort to keep the blue trash cans issued to customers in good working order.
“It’s a huge battle,” she said, of the constant need for repairs to damaged cans. Most of the problem stems from customers placing their cans facing the wrong direction on the street or road.
The trucks’ lift systems are designed to pick up and empty the cans a certain way, and when customers place their cans the wrong way the dumping procedure often tears the covers from the cans.
Supervisors suggested Jackson instruct the garbage truck drivers to get out of their trucks and turn misplaced cans around, but decided against that option when they considered the potential for lost productivity and safety issues.
It was decided drivers should take a picture of cans turned the wrong way and skip that week’s pick-up. Jackson said she believes customers will give more attention to can placement if garbage pick-up is interrupted for a week.
“We are already picking up about 1,000 cans and dumpsters a day and the drivers just don’t have time to stop and turn cans around,” she said.
The most controversial part of Jackson’s presentation about garbage collection in the county involves the issue of garbage trucks running on private roads for house-to-house pickups.
Because state law forbids county-owned equipment and work on private roads, supervisors can’t continue to allow garbage trucks to run on the more than 100 non-public roads in Panola County.
This includes the large subdivision of Enid Shores, several trailer parks, and a host of other driveways and gravel roads that lead to just one, or a few, houses.
Jackson has a plan to address the garbage pickup of those customers who will soon not have the convenience of pickup at their addresses.
For Enid Shores, supervisors were told that a large roll-off type dumpster would be placed near the community’s water tower that would be available for all the area residents, and picked up for disposal as needed.
Other county residents would be served by dumpsters, or given instructions on where to take their cans for pick-up – often to the nearest public road.
This decision has already proven to be very unpopular with residents who have become accustomed to garbage pickup at their houses on a regular basis.
The supervisors expect to hear input from affected customers at its next meeting Monday at 9 a.m. at the Batesville courthouse.