By Shaun Szkolnik
For The Tribune
CENTER POINT — The City of Center Point hosted a public forum to discuss proposed changes concerning the garbage/trash pickup services. The meeting was held on Thursday evening.
The purpose of the hearing was to get comments from the public in regards to a proposed ordinance that would require all property owners of private residences and businesses in Center Point to purchase garbage/trash pickup services.
Members of the public were invited to voice their concerns and ask questions. Council nembers and representatives from Advanced Disposal were on hand to note the citizens’ concerns and answer their questions.
“There are a lot of elderly that can’t afford in their budget trash service,” Center Point citizen Ginger Kennedy said. “They have like one bag a week, they use their neighbors’ trash, the neighbors are willing for that. Would there be any type of exemptions for someone like that?”
Mayor Tom Henderson answered Kennedy’s question.
“For anyone that is strictly on social security, they can make a request for an exemption,” Henderson said. “But it has to go through the health department and then it goes to Advanced. There is a process in the ordinance for that.”
Henderson also explained that there is an exemption in the ordinance for people that live in the city and have a business in the city. This exemption is not automatic; it must be requested.
Billy Heygood, another citizen of Center Point, had questions, as well.
“What is the anticipated start-up date?” he asked.
Heygood was informed by Council President Roger Barlow that the new ordinance would go into effect on April 1, 2019.
Center Point citizen Raymond Oland also had a question about the changes.
“Have we decided the cost to individual citizens?” Oland asked.
The council informed Oland that they believed the price has not yet been determined. That information was later confirmed by representatives from Advanced Disposal.
Representatives from Advanced Disposal also appeared before the council and answered questions.
A concern expressed by a citizen early in the meeting was brought to the Advanced Disposal representatives by Barlow.
“What about the disabled, or the elderly, or the widows that have a problem getting their trash to the street?” Barlow asked.
“We can certainly help with that,” an Advanced Disposal representative said. “What we generally ask for with that is a doctor’s note to let us know that there is an issue and we need to help; and we’ll be happy to do that.”
The representative further said that such requests could be mailed, emailed, faxed, or the citizen could make a phone call to Advanced Disposal to request the help.
Barlow next asked the representatives if there was a public awareness project that could inform the Center Point citizens about the service.
“We have a letter we’ll be drafting and sending out to all residents,” the representative said. “On there will be a phone number to call for cart replacements to schedule yard waste pick ups, as well as the holiday schedule.”
Other proposals were briefly discussed as to how to best inform the citizens when pickup would be altered due to holidays. The representative was open to several solutions including a calendar, as well as partnering with the city to put out a newsletter and having the information placed on the city’s website.
The proposal to require all Center Point property owners to subscribe to the garbage/trash pickup service has raised the concerns of some Center Point residents on social media over the last couple of weeks. A representative from Advanced Disposal addressed those concerns.
“Most all of y’all, I’m sure, are here because you care and you want the right thing to happen,” the representative said. “Y’all pay your bill and do what you’re supposed to, but you’ve got a lot of people that aren’t. They’re using other people’s cans and they’re putting in people’s dumpsters and that kind of thing. This will alleviate a lot of that. It will make sure that everyone is being treated fairly and evenly, and you’re on the right page with trying to keep the city clean.”
The representative further explained that having the entire city on the service allowed for Advanced Disposal to attend to nearly all of the trash that was left out in Center Point, instead of having to confirm which lots had service and not being able to remove the waste from the areas that did not have the service.
The ordinance will be further considered and voted upon at the Dec. 20 meeting of the Center Point City Council.