(Shelby County, TN) The Shelby County administration is considering a trash service for all unincorporated residents, as one way of fighting blight.
County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s office estimates about 12 percent of the 36,000 homes in the unincorporated area do not have trash service, as required by county ordinance. Instead, those people are dumping trash anywhere they want.
News Channel 3 saw piles of junk tossed along the sides of rural Shelby County roads, displaying old tires, couches, car seats, TV sets, and general trash.
Luttrell’s office said that last year, the county had to clean up 390 illegal dump sites. The Shelby County Health Department also answered almost 600 calls about garbage left at homes not served by a trash collection company.
By offering a county-wide trash service for those in the unincorporated areas, the administration hopes that will stop people from having to dispose of trash illegally.
The estimated cost to residents will be a $25 fee on their MLGW bills.
For those who currently contract with private companies for trash pickup, this can be anywhere from $5 to $9 more per month than what they’re currently paying.
At a public meeting Thursday night, about 50 residents objected to the plan.
Many said they feel they’re being punished for others’ crimes.
“I want to know what was in the presentation that would make me want to embrace your service, rather than what I already have,” said one man.
Another man voiced his skepticism by asking, “What kind of kickbacks are y’all going to get at the county?”
Some asked about the extra price for having the county pick up tree limbs.
The plethora of complaints was too much for Cheryl Akins.
“It's amazing. One lady was concerned about trees, and she doesn't even have a tree in her yard. Why would you ask that question?”
Akins lives in a neighborhood where illegal dumping is a problem.
“We have so many empty lots, that people just drive by and throw their trash away, and it makes our community look bad,” she said.
Akins said she’s concerned for her children, if they come across rats or other vermin attracted to the trash.
She believes this county-wide trash service is a good idea, especially since it would only cost her $5 more dollars per month.
But others said they don’t believe offering trash pick-up for every house will solve the illegal dumping problem.
“They don't pick up tires, they don't pick up car wheels, they don't pick up car parts, so where are the people going to dump those? In the illegal dump sites,” said Barry Clay.
Clay said he’s also worried the county can raise the price on the service at any time. He said at that point, the customer will have no choice but to pay it.
At least now with private service, Clay can choose to go with another company if the current price is too high.
Public meetings will continue over the next month, for citizens to voice their opinions.
They will all start at 6p.m.
Eads and East Shelby County Areas: Sept. 13, Fisherville Civic Club, 12017 North Macon Road
Woodstock and Millington Areas: Sept. 18, Woodstock Middle School, 5885 Woodstock Club Road
Bolton and Brunswick Areas: Sept. 20, Bolton High School, 7323 Brunswick Road
Northaven and Shelby Forest Areas: Oct. 2, Northaven Elementary School Auditorium, 5157 Circle Road
Ultimately, the Shelby County Commission will consider the plan sometime in October. Those who wish to voice their opinions can also contact their commissioners.