Originally created 11/04/99

Commission trashes plan for tax ballot



Augusta Commission on Tuesday trashed a plan to give residents in suburban areas a chance to vote on whether they want the city to take over their garbage pickup and tax them for it.

The full commission nullified last week's vote by the Engineering Service Committee to authorize City Administrator Randy Oliver to seek bids for garbage pickup in portions of suburban Augusta.

The board also sent back to committee a proposed ordinance that would require independent trash haulers to use bona fide garbage trucks manufactured for that purpose. The proposal is designed to cut down on litter and illegal dumping.

The city currently contracts with private companies for garbage pickup in the urban district -- the area in the old city limits of Augusta -- and taxes each resident about $153 a year for the service.

Expanding the coverage area would add about 17,500 new households and businesses to the number now being handled by the city's contract haulers and double the coverage area. It also would save residents in the area now using private haulers about $450,000 a year in garbage pickup costs, city officials said.

The city now contracts for service to about 15,000 households and businesses and would also rebid those contracts.

The boundaries of the proposed district were Gordon Highway and Laney- Walker Boulevard Extension on the south, Bobby Jones Expressway on the west, the Columbia County line on the north, the Savannah River and Sand Bar Ferry Road on the east.

The proposals drew objections from trash haulers who now have contracts with the city and small independent haulers.

Bill Polonus, owner of Augusta Disposal, said the proposal to expand the coverage area needs much more discussion.

One independent hauler, J.B. White, said it looked to him like the city wants to "put the little trucks completely out of business."

"The little man's got to eat just like the big man," Mr. White said.

Mayor Pro Tem Lee Beard asked why the proposed expansion was north of Gordon Highway only.

"Why would we go to all this trouble to study zones just north of the Gordon Highway," he said. "Why not extend it throughout the whole city, and you would have there whether the people elected to do it or not."

Mr. Oliver said based on prior input that was received there appears to be less interest south of the Gordon Highway.

The proposed amendment to require real garbage trucks was drawn up at the request of the Clean Up Augusta committee, chaired by Eugene Tanzymore. Mr. Tanzymore said the committee did not ask for that provision.

The committee's main concerns were that the vehicle be inspected yearly and have a sticker and that it be covered to cut down on litter, Mr. Tanzymore said.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylviaco@augustachronicle.com.