County takes step to align garbage, residences|[03/14/08]

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 14, 2008

An attempt to bring Warren County’s garbage client lists into line with the county’s addressing books began this week.

About 70 addresses countywide are missing from the master list of more than 21,000, addressing coordinator Kenny Staggs said.

With many of them in the Eagle Lake area — whose garbage collection has teetered on uncertainty as its primary provider has endured financial problems — supervisors urged bringing both lists up to speed simultaneously.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

The county governing board is continuing to consider franchising a single provider for waste collection outside the city limits — scrapping the mix of large and small firms now operating. Having a complete list of residences showing who pays whom for garbage service is the goal, as stated in the state-required waste management ordinance.

“We are working on it. Slowly but surely,” said Warren County Fire Coordinator and Environmental Officer Kelly Worthy.

Renewed talk Thursday came on the heels of news that Tallulah-based Earth Friends Recycling & Disposal had sold an interest in its company to Fayette Mayor Rogers King.

Separate calls to Earth Friends offices in Tallulah and to King’s office were not returned.

The state law passed nearly 20 years ago was designed to eliminate random dumping and more closely control rural waste. Warren County’s compliance plan has been to allow private firms to solicit and bill customers directly and include a $1.25 surcharge for monitoring purposes. Currently, two commercial firms and three private haulers provide garbage pickup and report their customers to the county, which is supposed to compare them with a master list of households to assure every address is being served, at least in some manner.

Waste Management Inc., which holds the City of Vicksburg residential contract, is the choice of most county households. Its most recent report in January showed 4,366 customers. Earth Friends served 606 residents. Individual haulers handle pickup for another 448 customers scattered countywide.

Households not recorded as having paid the monthly surcharge must provide proof in writing that they are attempting to lawfully dispose of residential and commercial garbage. Permission can be given from the owner of a commercial receptacle and residents can also take it to Waste Management themselves if documented.

Supervisors have said residents who move without notifying either their garbage provider or the county as the biggest challenge of the current system.

“By the time we get involved, we’re about four to six months down the road,” District 1 Supervisor David McDonald said.

Some customers have received bills meant for others still on the lists at a particular residence.

In one instance, Worthy said, a resident had called his office to inquire about a bill actually meant for the previous resident.

“I thought she had just moved there,” Worthy said. “She had lived in the house three years and hadn’t been billed.”

The January report, likely to change following the addressing audit, showed 5,420 households on the client list of the two firms and three private haulers. Based on the 10,400 housing units in nonmunicipal Warren County, it leaves 5,005 unaccounted for in terms of tracking how garbage was being disposed as required by the state.

Supervisors have announced no timetable for a decision on any changes.

Inside Vicksburg, 9,600 customers are charged a monthly fee for sanitation service. Beginning this month, city-approved hikes in rates appeared on customers’ bills, increasing them from $16.80 to $17.89. City officials said jumps in disposal and fuel costs prompted the move.

Disposal of waste when collected is a separate matter. Waste Management trucks local garbage to regional landfills. Both Vicksburg and Warren County formerly operated their own landfills, but the last of them was closed and sealed when the tighter state and federal controls were enacted.