Originally created 03/01/97

The people's plan



A series of Augusta Commission hearings held throughout Richmond County on Administrator Randy Oliver's gutsy proposal to impose mandatory garbage pickups to curb unlawful dumping has been soundly rejected.

Let it not be said, on this issue anyway, that the government did not listen to the governed. The Oliver plan - to have the government contract for the pickups and charge residents on their tax bills - would efficiently take the incentives out of unlawful dumping. After all, why dump if you're going to be charged for the service anyway?

But newcomer Oliver did not reckon with the fact that most Richmond Countians are pleased with the private haulers they've got and saw more minuses than pluses in switching to a government-run system. Privatization advocates can count this not only as a victory, but as a vote of confidence.

This isn't to say that residents aren't concerned about illegal dumping; they are, and their chosen method of dealing with it is likely to soon be approved by the Commission: Stiffen enforcement mechanisms; toughen penalties, including raising fines against haulers so high that they risk being put out of business if they're caught; and give property owners 15 days to clean up or the government will do it and charge them for it.

The plan isn't as efficient as Oliver's one-size-fits-all proposal, but it has the virtue of holding wrongdoers accountable for their actions.

It may take awhile, but if administered properly, it should eventually achieve the desired results.