By CALVIN PYNN
This past week, many property owners in Pulaski County received a letter in the mail from the Public Service Authority (PSA) informing them of a garbage collection charge that came as a surprise for quite a few.
While some people were unaware of a garbage collection fee as their refuse was picked up free of charge on a weekly basis, it turns out this isn’t a new policy, according to County Administrator Pete Huber.
“In some way or another, everybody generates trash, and that’s a fee that basically takes care of landfill costs, regardless of how it gets there,” Huber said.
According to Debra Boyd, the accounts payable and collections clerk for the PSA, several county residents have responded to the letters, as more county residents are signing up for service.
Huber explained that citizens are being notified as the county PSA has done a sort of reevaluation several times over the years. From time to time, they will need to go over real estate records and determine where there are improved properties to make sure everybody is paying their share for landfill operations and trash collection.
This all dates back to the 1980s, when county officials realized there was an expense for disposing of trash in the landfill. Instead of including that as a real estate tax increase, which would unfairly target those with larger or more expensive properties, they chose to establish a charge on a per household basis, as opposed to the value or amount of acreage on a property.
Right now, the PSA is currently doing is another iteration to make sure that’s the case. For some people in the county, particularly those who recently moved on to a property with a well or septic tank, their garbage was still collected routinely, even though they were not officially signed up for service.
According to Huber, this is due to the county’s priority to keep garbage from being dropped anywhere but the dump.
“The goal of this whole system is to keep trash from being dumped on the mountains,” Huber said. “We’ve got some beautiful country, and the last thing we want is folks not having good options for disposing their trash.”
Many other localities share that same belief as well, however, they will use a volume base to charge more for garbage collection to meet aesthetic and financial needs. According to Huber, it’s a difficult thing to keep up with.
“We don’t use that basis,” he said. “Whatever someone puts out there, unless it’s a mountain of trash, gets picked up. There are places that we may not know about until you have about four or five people on a private road putting their trash out. You can’t keep up with whose trash is what.”
What’s happening right now is a form of audit to makes sure that all occupied housing in Pulaski County is paying a refuse bill in some form or another.
As those billing charges have been in place for a while, Huber said that whoever hasn’t been charged for the past few years will not be penalized for that time. Instead, the PSA starts fresh from the current situation.
There are three levels of service through the PSA. One is the full service, which charges $15 per month (or $45 collected every three months), in which residents place the garbage out on the curb or the closest state maintained road where it is picked up by the county. The second is a user amount, which provides access to the landfill offering citizens a place to dispose of garbage such as construction items.
The third is a low volume rate, designed for those who choose to recycle frequently.
The county also has three drop centers, which are paid for by a surcharge on industrial waste through the PSA. One is on Dora Highway in the Town of Pulaski, another is on bagging plant road near the County Garage, and the last one is on Mason Street near the Peppers Ferry Regional Wastewater Plant.
“That’s also a convenience to the public,” Huber said. “It’s so you can set your trash out on the curb, or set it out on the street, or if you have something you really want to get rid of or that’s too large for the trash trucks to pick up, then you can haul them to the drop site.”
For those that aren’t currently paying a garbage bill and received a letter, services can be set up at the Dublin Town Center PSA Office from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., or they can find an application online on the county’s web site. Residents can also sign up at the Fairlawn Bookkeeping Service, or the Pulaski County Administration Building.