Garbage rates going up in Greene County

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

In a special called meeting in late December, the Greene County Commission voted to raise garbage rates to generate more revenue for the county.

Monday, Commissioner William Johnson said he was not pleased with the idea of a special meeting to address this issue.

“We called a special meeting to raise the garbage $5 and I disagree with a called meeting when there is no emergency,” Johnson said. “When you have a called meeting you have five or six people out in the audience, but with a regular meeting people know what is going on.”

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For many, Johnson said, a $5 increase was no small amount.

“I am sorry that you are not getting out there and seeing the condition of some of these people,” Johnson said. “For some of these people, $5 means the difference in them getting a pill that week. We need to stop and think about some of these things.”

Johnson added, he was in favor of helping the counties financial situation, but felt there could be a better way to handle garbage pickup.

“I don’t have a problem with this, but it seems like we should put it up for bid,” Johnson said. “In the city, they are still paying $13, but in our area, we are paying $18. It hurts my heart when people are being overlooked like that.”

Johnson said he would like to see the pickup bid out.

Commission Chairman Chip Beeker said the meeting was an emergency situation because of the desperate condition of the county’s finances.

“We called a meeting because the county is in desperate shape for funds,” Beeker said. “We had a list of things that were read out and discussed. The garbage carts we have are in deplorable condition and are going to have to be replaced for $60,000. We don’t have a place to get that money.”

Pay raises and raises in retirement benefits, Beeker said, have taken a back seat because of the county’s financial situation.

“We talked about raises our employees got last year, which was meager, and how we were not able to do anything for our retirees,” Beeker said. “They haven’t gotten a raise. We need to address those issues.”

Since the county declared bankruptcy in 1994, Beeker said, county employees have only been able to work 35 hours a week.

Employees, Beeker said, needed more hours.

“These are real people,” Beeker said. “This is about all of us. This is not a political issue. We should allow those employees to make 40 hours a week.”

Johnson disagreed with using higher garbage rates to raise revenue.

“You are saying now that we are going to take money from the garbage and pay other bills,” Johnson said. “That is not the way it is supposed to be. It is supposed to maintain itself. If somebody can come in here and do this job better than we are let’s let someone else come in and do it.”