City-organized trash service could be good for Jasonville

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Jasonville City Council heard the concerns of its constituents about trash pick up in the city and brought the issue before patrons in a public meeting this week.

The council hosted an informational session where quite a few people voiced their disapproval of having one service pick up trash weekly throughout the city, which would be charged in a monthly sum tacked to the utility bill.

As presented, the prospective plan made sense, while some of the arguments against the service could also be made into arguments for it.

Let’s start at the beginning. A Jasonville resident presented a petition with the names of 41 individuals in favor of having the city coordinate the trash service at a rate of about $14 to $15 each month for weekly trash pick up. The fee would be included in the customer’s water and sewage bill.

As it stands, Jasonville does not offer trash pick up.

In order for Jasonville residents to get rid of their trash, they have to seek a contracted trash service, take their trash somewhere else or let the trash pile up.

Implementing a city-owned trash pick up would not be cost effective considering the cost of trucks, vehicle maintenance, getting rid of the trash and staffing the trucks with employees (plus benefits) to pick up the trash. In fact, some communities throughout the state have considered ditching their utility-owned trash pick up for a contracted service to save money on the upkeep and replacement of old trucks. The City of Vincennes considered this route in the last couple of years.

One resident referenced a piece of property in the city which has become the “community dumping pile.” Because many people do not have regular access to trash services, they have to take their trash somewhere. Unfortunately, for some people that means finding the most convenient spot, even if it creates an unsightly piece of property.

Another resident mentioned those people who let their trash stack up in the house, thus leaving the landlord with several days worth of work to clear out all the nasty junk. The resident used the reference against the switch. But, hopefully if implemented, the renter would utilize the trash services if they were readily available.

The council noted the cost of trash pick up would ultimately be a few dollars more per month than the contracted quote, which would be a new revenue stream for the city. Someone made the comment during the meeting that roads are hardly ever worked on, but this money could help with such projects.

If you want something done, someone has to pay for it. When the cost of living goes up for the rest of us, those prices do not stand still for the cities and towns. In fact, often times our community budgets are getting slashed, and it’s not the fault of our leaders.

At the same time, one of the biggest proponents of moving to the trash service with a fee built into their utility bill is concern about older residents with fixed income. But, surely they are already paying to get rid of their trash. This could just help streamline the process and potentially save them some money depending on their current service provider.

We are pretty lucky here in Greene County because for the most part, our leaders are not really politicians -- they’re men and women who love their county, cities and towns. They take time to listen to and address concerns whenever possible. Sure, sometimes they make policy decisions we may not like, but they are not in it for the payout.

Councilwoman Peggy Sluder made a good point in Monday’s meeting when she said “We are going to listen to the community, but we are also going to do what’s best for the city.”

The council members pore over budgets and line items, and try to maintain a steady understanding of those numbers, while most of them also work full-time jobs and having families of their own. They are the voice of their constituents, but also they have the knowledge and resources to make informed decisions.

Of course, there are always exceptions, but, like we said, for the most part we are pretty lucky around here.

Someone told the council they should “let the city govern themselves and (the council) oversee the meetings.”

Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue? City council members are bound by a specific parameter of laws set forth by Indiana Code, such as the Open Door Law. Also, council members have a job to do, so they show up when they’re needed. Too often we see an outcry from the community about a topic, only to be followed by empty chairs at the next public meeting.