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Recycling pickup on hold for now

Recycling pickup on hold for now
By DONNA RYDER
Associate Editor
Union City will not have curbside recycling pickup — at least for now.
Union City city council members agreed Tuesday night to continue its current contract with Barker Brothers, also known as Republic Services, to provide weekly garbage pickup within the city limits. The contract still has two years remaining, with Barker Brothers increasing the fee by 41⁄2 percent each year.
Bryan Barker has been presenting the council with offers for recycling pickup within the city at both orientation sessions and during council meetings.
During the July 3 meeting, Barker had offered alternating garbage and recycling pickups in Union City. He said if the city agreed, and extended its contract for five years, then the business would decrease the contracted increases each year from 41⁄2 percent to 3 percent.
But, several councilmen during that meeting expressed concern over going to every other week for garbage pickup and requested Barker come back to the council with another proposal that would include adding recycling to the weekly garbage pickup, but under the two-year existing contract.
Tuesday night, Barker said the business could offer recycling for an additional $2.95 per month, per household in addition to the service currently being provided if the city extended its contract by five years. The same reduction in yearly increases would apply. He had explained the offer to council members during their last orientation session.
Councilman Bill “Rat” Harrison said he could not see how the council could be justified in charging every household for recycling.
Mayor Terry Hailey said he has not found anyone who is willing to give up weekly garbage pickup and, with the way the economy is now, he doesn’t think it is feasible to start a recycling program by charging customers more for the service.
Councilman Billy Jack “B.J.” Cranford agreed saying everyone who has talked to him does not want to pay even an extra dollar for recycling. “I don’t think we can force it.”
Barker said they’ve been getting good response and have even had some people ask if they could get the service on an individual basis if the city does not contract for the service. Hailey said he didn’t think the council would have a problem with Barker Brothers offering that service and he probably would take it, but the city can’t eat the additional costs right now.
“Under better times, there might be something we can do,” Hailey added.
Ms. Dillon explained to the council the solid waste fund, which includes not only garbage pickup paid to Barker Brothers, but limb pickup and street sweeping performed by the city’s public works department, was short at the end of the fiscal year. She explained when the city took those two services over from contracting it with Barker Brothers, there were additional expenses due to having to purchase equipment. She said the city was able to “cushion” that cost the year before, but the 41⁄2 percent contract increase for Barker Brothers will have to be passed along to customers.
In other business, after the meeting was opened in prayer by city attorney Jim Glasgow Jr., the council:
• Amended the city’s municipal code pertaining to fire service outside the city limits. The council has decided to provide a subscription program, similar to that which it ran before Obion County ran its subscription plan during the last fiscal year. The city will still charge a $75 per fiscal year fee, which will not be pro-rated and will remain with the property on which it was paid for the full year. The fire response charge has been increased from $500 to $750. Union City will not respond to non-subscribers, according to Fire Chief Kelly Edmison.
The council also agreed to place all revenue from the calls in the General Fund. City manager Kathy Dillon said there had been a special fund set up to be used to purchase equipment for rural response. That equipment has since been purchased and the restricted fund is no longer needed.
The council also approved the rural fire subscription agreement with Obion County which allows the city to offer the service and approved the contract to be sent to affected rural residents. At the request of Ms. Dillon, there will be a line added for residents to sign if they decline the service.
Glasgow stressed to council members that this is not an insurance; the city is only providing rural fire service.
Edmison said contracts should be ready to be mailed this week or next and rural residents within the city fire district, as outlined by the plan using 911 maps, will have until Sept. 1 to pay the fee. The city has been responding to all calls outside its city limits and within its fire district since the county broke its contract with the city for running a subscription program.
• Passed, on second and final reading, an ordinance which authorizes the Industrial Development Board of the City of Union City to negotiate and accept In Lieu of Ad Valorem Taxes the amount to be paid on real and personal property to Obion County. Ms. Dillon said the city’s board is working as the negotiating agency since Obion County has no industrial development board.
• Heard city employee Jason Moss explain that the State of Tennessee has requested each city ask its customers to conserve water. “We’re asking customers to reduce where they can,” he said, adding ways to conserve can be found on the Internet or in the library.
He said the city is not running out of water and it is not having trouble supplying water to its customers, but with the projected rainfall slim in coming months, it’s best to conserve now so there will not be a problem later.
Moss told the council water usage is back to normal. It had been up two weeks ago.
• Approved a job description for a Level 2 clerk in public works.
• Discussed railroad crossings which are being repaired in the city. Public Works director Steve Ladd said he is working with the C&N supervisor to make it happen. He said the railroad has been shorthanded, with not enough money to perform certain jobs. He added there is also a shortage of crossties.
Ladd said C&N is repairing the crossings and the city will bring in its contractor to perform the asphalt work. He added not all the crossings will need repair, but the city will replace asphalt to meet the city’s specifications.
• Heard Reelfoot Pond, which has been leaking significantly, will be allowed to drain two to three feet so repairs can be made. This will not hurt the fish, Ms. Dillon said. The city will also install a well which will allow the city to fill the pond from groundwater, instead of treated city water. The well will cost about $6,500.
• Discussed the former Reelfoot Packing Co. building. Hailey asked what the city’s next action should be. Glasgow said the city has gone as far as it can with the Environmental Protection Agency. He said he will come back to the next council meeting with legal remedies.
The Messenger has learned that the council was notified earlier this year that a grant proposal submitted to the EPA’s National Brownfields Program did not score high enough to be funded. This grant was one being sought with the help of Keramida.
Associate Editor Donna Ryder can be contacted by email at dryder@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 7.18.12

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