City considers revisions to garbage ordinance
by Emily McLain
Dec 06, 2013 | 965 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SYLACAUGA – The City Council voted this week to renew its contract with Advanced Disposal as it considers revisions to the city’s garbage ordinance.

The disposal agreement with Advanced Disposal, formerly Veolia, was extended for up to one year starting Jan. 1 with the right to cancel upon 90 days written notice. It was continued at the present rate of $11.95 per residential unit. The $14.08 fee residents pay for garbage includes leaf and limb pickup and associated services.

The council has been reviewing the city’s garbage ordinance, last updated in 2009, for several months. Council members requested the 90-day right to cancel in the new contract in case they update the ordinance and the contract no longer complies, Mayor Doug Murphree said Friday.

At a council work session Dec. 4, City Clerk Patricia Carden presented a rough draft of ordinance revisions that councilmen plan to discuss at their next meeting in two weeks.

Along with some language updates, the main issue they aim to clarify is what defines a residence versus a business, Murphree said.

“Right now, it says we’ll be charged so much per residence, and it does not define multi-unit dwellings,” he said. “(The council) wants to maybe get a definition on that, and honestly, there hasn’t been a lot of discussion on it, because there is a lawsuit pending, but there’s still a lot to be done on it.”

Concern about this particular issue arose after Creekside Apartments filed a lawsuit against the city in October 2012. The Motes Road complex is seeking a court order that it be allowed exemption from the city’s mandatory disposal service. It was denied exemption by the previous city council because the city would have to pay the apartments’ contracted costs through the end of the contract, city leaders said, and feared other apartments would follow suit.

Attorney David Stubbs, representing the city in this case, said Friday that the city has filed a motion for summary judgment “based on pertinent facts and applicable law in an effort to have the court address those issues so a trial may not become necessary.” A hearing for this motion has not been set, he said.

Currently, residences are required to use the city’s trash pickup; however, businesses are required to contract their own. Councilman Joe Hogan said at an August work session he believes multi-unit dwellings that bill for garbage pickup through rent, rather than directly through the Utilities Board, qualify as a business.

“We’re saying as a residence, you have to pay your residential fee, apparently through the Utilities Board or however you’re going to pay that, but we’re not enforcing that,” Hogan said. “We’re not allowing (Creekside Apartments owner) to be the business in charge of the dumpster, and we’re not allowing them to be the residents and pay their monthly fee, and he’s found a loophole in this that gives him his exemption, and that hasn’t been allowed. Whatever happens with his proceedings is beside the fact that this (ordinance) needs to be cleaned up and brought in line so there are no problems, no contradictions.”

Murphree said some discussion has been held about how many units should be the cutoff to qualify as a residence or business, but “nothing has been finalized.”

The city has contracted with Advanced Disposal for more than six years, Murphree said.

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