LIVINGSTON – An increase in dumping fees at the county landfill and five trash collections stations was presented to Polk County Commissioners Tuesday during their regular meeting in Livingston.
The increases, which go into effect on July 1, were presented by Mike Demarco, general manager of Santek Waste Services, which operates the landfill and collection stations under a contract with the county. Under the contract, Santek is allowed to periodically adjust the rates.
Demarco told commissioners the rate change was needed to offset increased operating costs and noted the last time the landfill rates were changed was on April 1, 2014 while the collection station rates have not been changed since Jan. 1, 2013.
He noted the rates in question are the fees the public pays when they dispose of trash and other items at the landfill near Leggett or the collections stations located throughout the county. Fees paid by commercial haulers to use the landfill are on a different schedule and are adjusted annually.
One of the major changes being made to the fee schedule is the amount paid for bagged garbage. In the past, Santek had five different rates for different sizes of bags ranging from 13 gallons or less up to those that contain over 70 gallons.
“The biggest single area of dispute that we’ve had was over the size of the bags being dumped,” Demarco said. “We decided to simplify that.”
Under the new schedule, bags of up to 13 gallons in size will be priced at 45 cents – up from the current 35 cents. All bags that are sized at 14 gallons or larger will now be priced at $1.35 per bag.
Santek will continue to accept appliances of up to four cubic yards in size free of charge at the collection stations and there will be no change to the $15 fee for the disposal of mattresses at either the collections stations or landfill.
Pct. 3 Commissioner Milt Purvis noted that in the past they have had problems with people dumping unwanted appliances, mattresses and other items on the side of county roads, forcing commissioners to have to expend resources to clean the illegal dump sites.
“The public needs to understand that it’s cheaper for them to take their trash to the landfill or collection stations. It costs them much more if we have to spend tax dollars to clean up items dumped along the roads,” he said.
In other business Tuesday, commissioners approved a financing package to purchase equipment needed as part of a plan to reduce the county’s energy bills. Under the plan the Way Companies will purchase and install the needed equipment that is guaranteed to greatly reduce the amount the county spends on electricity.
As part of the overall package, the Way Companies offered a financing plan for the equipment but gave the county the option make other arrangements. In April commissioners agreed to seek alternative financing for the $2.1 million project and on Tuesday learned that a bid had been received from JPMorgan Chase and Co. at a rate of 1.935%, which County Judge Sydney Murphy said would save the county about $230,000 in interest fees over the life of the loan.
During the meeting, commissioners also:
-- Agreed to allow Murphy to proceed with budget planning that would include a 2.5 percent cost of living pay increase for all county employees. Work on the 2016-17 budget, which would go into effect on Oct. 1 is now underway and commissioners are expect to hold workshop sessions and hearings on the spending plan during the coming weeks.
-- Decided not to regulate the sale of certain fireworks over the July 4 holiday. Murphy explained that under state law, commissioners had until June 15 to order that certain types of fireworks not be sold. After that date, they could only order a complete ban on all fireworks as part of an emergency order to deal with drought conditions.
-- Approved that sale of tax foreclosed subdivision lots in precincts 1, 2 and 4.
-- Learned from Emergency Management Coordinator Larry Pitts that while Polk County has not yet been included in a federal disaster order stemming from May’s heavy rains and flooding, officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be in the county next week to do a damage assessment.
-- Learned the sheriff’s department has been awarded as $27,550 grant to purchase additional body cameras for its deputies. The $10,400 in local matching funds needed for the grant has been obtained from donations from the community.
-- Recognized this year’s winners of the $1,000 Bobby Smith Memorial Scholarships. Sponsored by the county’s delinquent tax collection firm, Linebarger Goggan Blair and Sampson, the county awards one scholarship to a senior from the six local high schools. The 2016 winners included Travis Hendrix of Big Sandy High School, Savanna Knight of Corrigan-Camden High School, Kristen Lee Coker of Goodrich High School, Kimberly Christoph of Leggett High School, Sarrah Esser of Livingston High School and Darren Jennings of Onalaska High School.
SCHOLARSHIP WINNER – Savanna Knight, a Corrigan-Camden High School senior, was recognized Tuesday by the Polk County Commissioners Court as one of the six winners of the $1,000 Bobby Smith Memorial Scholarships awarded by the court. The other winners, who were not able to attend the meeting, included Travis Hendrix of Big Sandy, Kristen Lee Coker of Goodrich, Kimberly Christoph of Leggett, Sarrah Esser of Livingston and Darren Jennings of Onalaska. Pictured above are (L-R) Pct. 4 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet, Pct. 1 Commissioner Bob Willis, Knight, County Judge Sydney Murphy, Pct. 2 Commissioner Ronnie Vincent and Pct. 3 Commissioner Milt Purvis.