Garbage ordinance includes stricter guidelines


CORDOVA — A new garbage ordinance under consideration by the Cordova City Council includes a strict set of guidelines as well as a rate increase.

The 18-page ordinance, drafted by city attorney Ben Goldman, limits the number of cans that residents can have, bans barrels and bins and requires that all garbage be bagged in order for it to be picked up. 

The ordinance also requires that residential garbage accounts be listed in the property owner's name, though allowances will be made for tenants whose bills are kept in good standing.

In addition, rates will increase for regular customers from $12 to 14 and for businesses from $20 to $50 instead of the $75 originally proposed by Mayor Drew Gilbert.

Proceeds from the increased rates will be used to pay for a new garbage truck, which council members voted to purchase Tuesday night. 

Council members are expected to vote on the new ordinance at the Sept. 11 meeting. The new rates will take effect once the ordinance is adopted. 

Goldman discussed the ordinance in detail with council members at Tuesday's meeting. Gilbert was not present.  

Goldman described the ordinance, which updates previous ordinances adopted in 1984 and 2010, as "a massive overhaul."

The ordinance reestablishes a mandatory garbage service for residents. The service is optional for businesses. 

The ordinance defines a garbage can as "a receptacle or container that is no more than 64 gallons in size that has a lid that is sealable when closed, that is durable, that is portable and that is watertight."

"We're trying to drill down on our definition of a cart and what someone has to provide to make it easy for our department when they go out to collect the trash to be able to do their work efficiently and quickly," Goldman said.

Barrels and bins will be prohibited. Cans must be unobstructed and placed at the curb prior to the specified pickup time and then removed. 

"You don't want to block the containers. You want to make it easy for them (city employees) so when they come through, they're not having to lift out of contraptions and get a workout with an overhead lift every time they come out," Goldman said. 

Residents will receive permits for two cans as part of the $14 monthly rate. Permits can be purchased for additional cans, though that rate has not yet been established by the council. 

The requirement that bills be listed in the property owner's name is  new for the city, which tacks garbage service onto the monthly bill that residents receive from the Cordova Water and Gas Board .

"You do not want your prosecutor or your police officers having to go read a lease agreement to figure out who is ultimately responsible for garbage service at a particular property. When you are dealing with literally a messy situation, you don't want that. You want to make sure that whoever is in charge of that property bears the ultimate responsibility, even though we certainly would encourage them to work that out with their tenants," Goldman said.

Goldman also informed council members that though the city is not obligated to provide service for residents who don't pay their bill, he will include  language to that effect in the ordinance.

Gilbert said at the Aug. 14 meeting that he would like the city to begin receiving a list of delinquent accounts from the Water and Gas Board so that garbage pickup can be discontinued until the bill is paid.

Residents who leave their garbage at the road will be subject to other ordinances such as litter and general nuisance ordinances.

Contractors will be prohibited from leaving materials at the road for city employees to pick up.

Council member Bradley Grace asked about property owners who pile up garbage by the road after a tenant moves out.

"I would take the position whether you had an amendment or not that they couldn't do it because it's creating a nuisance, but this (ordinance) will get at those sort of problems in a couple of ways. It's really only for solid waste — household garbage, rubbish, leaves if you want to bag them up, and all of that has to fit in your allotted container," Goldman said.

Following the conversation with Goldman, council members voted to purchase a garbage truck for $130,318.82. The truck is expected to take between 150 and 180 days to build.

Gilbert said at the Aug. 14 meeting that he has approached three locally-owned banks — Pinnacle, Bank of Walker County and First National Bank of Hamilton — about financing the purchase.

Mayor Pro Tem Ed Earp said Tuesday night that the city has received two financing offers and is awaiting the third. 

A final decision on financing is expected at the Sept. 11 meeting.