Upson County officials recently made the decision to take over the billing and collection portion of the garbage services, which are contracted through Waste Industries, and are in the process of getting everything ready for the October through December billing cycle. As part of the change, they have also placed a $15,000 total household income limit on the senior citizen discount, which will essentially cut the 600 households who currently receive the discount by more than half. The word around town is this has much of the senior adult population upset. Concerned citizen Gary Self addressed the Upson County Board of Commission about the matter at last week’s meeting and expressed his displeasure with the change.
Self told the board he feels the $15,000 a year household limit would equal out to roughly $1,250 a month; and noted for two senior citizens on social security, it would mean they could only have a check of $625 each to qualify. He stated that is not much at all and feels this limit has basically eliminated the entire senior citizen discount since the majority of citizens will not qualify for it. Self also told the board that the company who does the collecting, Waste Industries, had allowed anyone over 65 years of age to receive the discount that equaled out to $15 off per quarter; and he did not understand why a limit was now needed seeing as the only thing that had changed was the county taking over the billing for the services.
If the removal of a discounted rate was not bad enough, Self told the board the new rate has equaled out to a $10 a quarter increase for senior citizens and a $5 a quarter discount for everyone else.
“So now we’ve got 1,200 garbage users with the senior citizens paying them a discount,” he stated. “That’s odd to me that you are going to take $10 from me and give it to that one over there. What I am asking of y’all tonight, this ordinance was passed many years ago by a different commission and what I would like for you to do is re-look at this thing and decide how you are going to handle it. I would certainly love to know that you can say a senior citizen is 65 and older and not have that $15,000 limit in there because there are very few people that can live under that.”
Jerome Phillips also signed up to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting and told the commissioners he agreed with everything Self said and asked for the income limit to be dropped.
County Attorney Heath English stated he understands what Mr. Self is saying regarding the solid waste, but he also hopes that he, and the general public understand the commission board is bound by the ordinance as it stands right now.
Also during public comment, the commissioners heard from Milton Chapman who is upset about speeders and stray animals in his neighborhood. Chapman spoke to the board last month about the same issues and stated nothing has been done. Chairman Rusty Blackston told Chapman that he would need to speak to the Sheriff’s Office about the speeding issue and suggested he make a call to Upson County Animal Control to ask that they come and patrol his neighborhood to help control the stray dog and cat situation. When Chapman said the “dog catcher” used to come around regularly without anyone having to make a call, Blackston noted that may have been the case, but now with only one person running animal control it is hard to get to all the neighborhoods in the county without being given a heads up of what needs attention. Chapman lives in the northside of town.
In other business, the board held the first discussion of the county abandoning a portion of Old Antioch Church-Delray Road. Blackston stated in the early 1900s, Delray road intersected Highway 19 at a different point than it does now. The intersection was moved to its’ current location in the 1950s; however the resolution was never changed, leaving about one-quarter of an acre dormant. The board is planning to abandon the portion of the road so it will go back to the property owners and can be placed on the tax book again. County Manager Jim Wheeless told the board he had spoken with the property owners this will affect and none seemed to have a problem with the change. He noted the board will officially vote on the matter at their August 12 board meeting.
Finally, Commissioner Lorenzo Wilder told the board the Salem Volunteer Fire Department is in need of a new tanker truck as the pump motor went bad in the one they currently have while they were responding to a call. He noted the current truck the department has in a 1989 model and he thought there is funding designated in the SPLOST to help with the fire departments. No action was taken on the matter during the meeting.
Ashley Biles can be reached by calling 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @AshleyBiles1