The Benham City Council unanimously approved the program Thursday after Harlan County Solid Waste coordinator Lakis Mavinidis addressed the council regarding the joint effort during the regular monthly meeting.
Mavinidis explained to the council that not only would the program be beneficial in eliminating the county’s litter problem but it would also help with keeping the overall countywide costs of garbage rates from going up and help save the city money on the amount of garbage that is being hauled to the landfills by city trucks.
“We want to make sure that everyone in the county is paying for garbage services, and by doing so it is going to do two different things,” said Mavinidis. “For one, if everyone is paying the garbage service the cost will not go up. At the same time, it will help with — I know you may not have the problem, but other cities do where people who do not receive garbage service they will bring the garbage into one of your dumpsters or drop it into somebody’s garbage and go on and then not pay service. But that costs you money because you have to go to the transfer station and pay by the ton.”
Mavinidis also explained to the council that the county will appoint an enforcement officer who will go door-to-door to inquire about any unpaid garbage bills if they continue to not pay the garbage rates after they are attached to the water bills.
“Of course, we will have an enforcement officer — if someone does not pay their garbage service once you have sent the bill, you do not have to cut their water service out,” said Mavinidis. “When we get the report on the ones who are delinquent we will have the enforcement officer to go door-to-door to make sure that they pay for their garbage service, and you are still going to get your 3.5 percent.”
The 3.5 percent Mavinidis referred to is the amount which the county will provide for the city to help cover the cost of the mailings as well as any extra bookkeeping that the program may require on behalf of the city.
With the garbage rates for outside city limit garbage service set at $14.68, the 3.5 percent would total to a little more than 50 cents per customer, which will allow for ample cost of mailing the two combined bills.
Mavinidis and the council agreed that this would be beneficial to the city due to the fact that the city currently pays to mail water bills to 88 customers outside the city limits. With the attachment of the garbage and water bills and the county supplying the funding for the mailing costs, this will also help the city with the cost of mailing just the water bills to these customers.
Mavinidis said another benefit of the program would be to eliminate the county’s litter and garbage problems.
“Once we get — hopefully — everyone on the garbage service, our county is going to be cleaner. As you know, we have somewhat of a litter problem throughout the whole state, and particularly what we are concerned with is all of the county —Harlan,” said Mavinidis. “By making sure that everyone gets garbage service, I can guarantee you that the litter problem will go down and be reduced. Because we know for a fact that if someone does not use garbage service, what will they do with their garbage — they will throw it out the window. So this will help all the way around.”
Mavinidis said if delinquent customers still do not pay their garbage bills after being visited by the county-appointed enforcement officer, they will be summoned to court.
Mavinidis noted that he realizes that the task will require some extra bookkeeping on the part of the city. However, he said the approval of the program was greatly appreciated by county officials.
The program does not affect the garbage customers inside the city limits because their garbage is picked up by the city garbage truck and billed by the city.
In other business, the council also recognized two of its outgoing members. Both Carl Shoupe and Robert Falls were presented plaques by Mayor John Dodd on behalf of the council for their services to the city during their tenure as council members.