County residents facing fine if they don’t sign up for garbage service

By Ashley Biles

July 15, 2014

Unincorporated Upson County residents have a few weeks left to make sure they are signed up for garbage collection with the county or they will face having to pay a fine, County Manager Jim Wheeless stated at last week’s Board of Commission meeting. Wheeless noted the county ordinance that has been in place since 1998 states that all residents in the unincorporated areas of the county must take part in the garbage collection, however it was recently discovered that nearly 2,500 households are not participating. The county is taking over the billing and collection for garbage services which are contracted through Waste Industries and is in the process of getting everything in order for the October through December billing cycle.

Wheeless stated there have been several complaints from residents that they are paying for garbage collection, but their neighbor is not and they feel it is unfair. He agreed and noted that anyone not signed up will be in violation of the ordinance and will face penalties and fines.

The only exception stated in the ordinance is if you own a private business in the unincorporated area of the county and have a dumpster there, then your primary residence is exempt. However, he emphasized that only means the business owners’ primary residence and stated that did not include family, neighbors, friends or workers. Those households have to abide by the ordinance and sign up for garbage collection. He suggested those not signed up for the garbage service do so by the middle of August to avoid receiving any fines.

Wheeless also told the board that nearly 600 letters went out to senior citizen residents who have been receiving a senior citizen discount on their garbage collection. He noted the ordinance states that in order to receive the discount, you must be 65 years of age and have a combined household income of less than $15,000. Wheeless stated there has not been much enforcing of the income limit over the last several years and he predicted the number of those receiving the discount may drop to around 200 households.

In other business, the board approved a contract with C.W. Matthews for $1,407,496.74 for the paving of Rocky Bottom Road, Triune Mill Road (from the city limits to Winsweep Farms Road) and Boyt Road. Wheeless told the board there was nearly $60,000 difference in the bids from C.W. Matthews and Georgia Asphalt for the job. He noted that roughly $418,000 of the amount will be paid through LMIG (Local Maintenance Improvement Grant) funds and the rest will come out of the SPLOST money designated for road. The total project covers 15.83 miles of roadway and Commissioner Steve Hudson noted prices have gone up drastically for paving since he took office in 2003. At that time, Hudson said he was told by former Road Superintendent Ronnie Williams that one mile of road cost $65,000 to resurface and now it was costing around $92,000. The entire board agreed that without the SPLOST funding, the county would not be able to afford resurfacing the roads in Upson County.

Wheeless announced at the meeting that three positions with the county have been filled, with Phil Ellerbee filling the position of Building Official; Susan Morris filling the position of part-time Code Enforcement Officer, and Tammy Buchanan filling the position of Billing and Collections for the garbage services.

Finally, Commission Chairman Rusty Blackston announced to the community that a prospective company that would create possibly 35-45 jobs was in town last week. He, along with the Thomaston-Upson Industrial Development Authority, City of Thomaston, Georgia Power, Norfolk Southern, all utility suppliers for the area, Southern Crescent Technical College and Quickstart all met with company representatives at the Thomaston-Upson County airport and he feels the meeting went very well. He noted the company has a particular site in mind and Upson County is the only location in the State of Georgia they are visiting.

Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1