The dwindling count for garbage customers has one local service provider concerned.
Sheila Mills from Mills Brothers Garbage Service Inc. brought presented concerns before the Bell County 109 Board on Wednesday. Mills said the customer count for the garbage service has been in continued decline, falling each month.
The price for garbage pick up in Bell County is based on the contract provided through county ordinance requiring all citizens in Bell County to pay for service.
Mills said in the past couple of years the success of customers paying their bills and resuming service after being cutoff for non-payment has declined by a large amount as well. In the past, the garbage service waited up to five months before cutting customers off for non-payment.
Also, there have been problems with non-customers using the trash service of family and friends who do have trash pickup, avoiding payment for the service.
In January 2011, the garbage service had a landfill tonnage of 446.48 tons with a customer count of 4,583 customers charged, Mills said. In August 2012, the service hauled 498.12 tons and only had a customer count of 4,402 charged. That means that more garbage was hauled with less customers being charged, she said.
“We are not being paid for all the people we are hauling,” said Mills. “When we cut them off, they put their trash in with their neighbors.”
When neighbors are confronted about the issue, the neighbors swear it’s their trash and they are paying for it to be picked up, said Mills.
Mills expressed an interest in increasing the monthly rate for customers because of the decline in customers and individuals paying their monthly bill. Mills stated fuel prices, insurance, metal for containers, repairs for trucks and other maintenance continue to increase.
“We need more money,” said Mills.
Mills stated an increase to $12.50 would be nice, but believes $12 is justified. Bell County’s garbage rate is lower than some of the surrounding counties, according to Mills. Knox County’s garbage bill is going to $15 a month, while Laurel County and Whitley County pay $16 and $17 a month, respectively, said Mills.
The 109 Board also discussed having the garbage bill tacked onto the utility bill, which could almost guarantee that the bill would be paid.
The board also said action would be taken against those who do not pay their garbage bill in the future. The board plans on discussing the issue at a later time.
Anthony Cloud is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. He can be contacted via email at email@example.com or by phone at 606-248-1010, ext. 208.