Harlan council discusses garbage rates

Published 4:00 pm Monday, February 20, 2023

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The Harlan City Council discussed the city’s garbage rates during the panel’s regular February meeting.

Mayor Joe Meadors brought the topic up to the council.

“I’m going to go over residential and commercial garbage rates,” Meadors said. “We’re going to have to do something, I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to recommend, but we’re not getting the revenue that we should be getting out of our garbage collection.”

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According to Meadors, Waste Connections has taken over the garbage collection for Middlesboro, Pineville and are in discussions with Evarts to take over their garbage service.

“I don’t want to give up garbage service,” Meadors said. “I want local control of that. This is a big deal.”

Meadors pointed out that Harlan is the only municipality in the area that collects garbage twice per week.

“We’re charging $19.19 a month for two days a week garbage collection,” Meadors said. “It’s substantially higher in other locations. I think Harlan County just went up fifty cents, I think theirs is $21.49 or something close to that, and that’s only one day of pickup.”

Meadors told the council he did not want to go to one day a week garbage pickup. He mentioned Cumberland charges $22.25 for one day a week of service.

“That’s residential. That’s got nothing to do with commercial garbage,” Meadors said.

Meadors said the city has approximately 500 residential customers.

“The commercial side is where it gets hairy,” Meadors said. “We’ve got 97 dumpsters out right now. That’s a lot of steel dumpsters.”

Meadors explained some dumpsters are picked up one day a week. Others are picked up two to five times per week.

“Every time you lift those garbage cans up, that’s wear and tear on our vehicles, its wear and tear on our dumpster,” Meadors said. “We’ve got to come to grips with this. With the cost of diesel fuel right now at $5.00 a gallon, we’re probably going in the hole.”

Meadors noted the expense of keeping the equipment working and other fees add to garbage service costs.

“I feel pretty good about the residential. I think it can be addressed fairly simply with a small increase,” Meadors said. “I want you to know I don’t want to give up our garbage collection.”

Council member Ann Hensley inquired about the city’s commercial garbage collection rate.

“It varies,” Meadors said. “I’ll bring you all the information we’ve got, and you can look at it.”

Meadors stated he did not want to harm local businesses.

“I don’t want to be a burden on our business community,” Meadors said. “I don’t want to put them in a spot where they’re not competitive or they feel like they’re better off going somewhere else and leaving Harlan. We don’t want that.”

The last increase in the garbage rate was in 2018, Meadors said.

“This is a big issue, and we’ve got to address it,” Meadors said. “I’ll give you all the information so you can make an informed decision. It will be your decision to make.”

After some further discussion, the council took no action, opting to collect more information on the issue before making a decision.