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Jellico has change of heart in sanitation additions

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By Beth Braden

In Jellico, five residential and one commercial customer have had part of their sanitation bill reduced. A second commercial customer opted to contract with a private waste collection service.

In November, Jellico’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen received a list of 24 residential and 27 commercial customers who weren’t paying sanitation fees.

In the regularly scheduled December meeting, Mayor Les Stiers said anyone who received utility services paid for sanitation whether they used the garbage pick-up or not.

“The ordinance on the book reads if you have a utility at your residence or business, you’ll have to pay,” Stiers said Dec. 20

The only way to avoid sanitation services was to terminate utilities or for the board to change the ordinance.

In January, the LaFollette Press requested a copy of the ordinance through the Freedom of Information Act that stated residential and commercial customers must pay sanitation fees. Stiers said he was making a “concerted effort” to find the ordinance.

The ordinance, received on March 11, outlined residential and commercial fees, but does not define who is subject to garbage pick up.

Since the original list was distributed in November, four of the listed residents have been granted a reprieve. They still pay sanitation fees on their residence, but do not pay a second fee because they have a second meter on a garage or shed.

Among the names and account numbers on the “to be added” November list were Jeremy Don Lawson, Ray Marsee, Billy C. Douglas and Donnie Douglas. They were added, but it wasn’t that they weren’t paying sanitation fees at all; they had second meters on their property. When those men appeared on the November list, the account numbers provided matched the account numbers Stiers has recently told Jellico Electric to stop charging sanitation fees to.

On Jan 10, Stiers authorized removing the second sanitation charge for a shed from Marsee’s bill. The account number in the letter matches the account number on the November list.

On Jan. 11, Stiers authorized removing a sanitation charge imposed on Donnie Douglas’ vacant lot on West Davis Lane. The account number in the letter matches the account number on the November list.

On Jan. 14, Stiers authorized the removal of a sanitation charge imposed on Billy C. Douglas’s shed. The account number in the letter matches the account number on the November list.

On Feb. 25, Stiers authorized removing a sanitation charge for a garage at Jeremy Don Lawson’s house.

On Feb. 26, Stiers authorized the removal of a sanitation charge onto an account held by Faye Bowlin. She did not appear on the November list, and Stiers said she was also being charged for a shed.

Because there are two meters, one on a home and one on another structure, in each of these cases, residents were receiving a second charge.

On March 4, the mayor said removing sanitation charges on sheds and outbuildings was the “fair” thing to do.

“What I asked the people to do is bring me both bills in here,” he said.

“The change in heart was the day we were looking at all of the people who were getting free garbage, we found out that at some locations there was two meters on the same property and it went to a swimming pool or garage. What we determined then was there’s no need to penalize the people for an extra garbage fee for a swimming pool or [shed].”

A church and a business were granted a reprieve.

The pastor of the Jellico Church of God addressed the board of mayor and alderman at the December meeting about the newly imposed garbage fees. The church was listed on the November list.

“I was just curious because it’s new to me. It’s never been done at our church before because we’ve never used the service, but now we’re paying for it,” said pastor Jerry Lambdin on Dec. 20. At the time, he said they were being charged for a vacant building they weren’t using.

On Feb. 8, Stiers instructed the J.E.W.S. via another email to raise the church’s fees from $18 to $88.

On March 12, Stiers wrote to the utility saying the Jellico Church of God “is being charged $88 for garbage service. There is no dumpster and this account should be adjusted to $18 per month.”

The account number listed for the church matches the account number on the November list.

David Rose, owner of the Rebel Bar and Grill saw his monthly garbage bill reduced by $176. In a March 1 letter from the mayor he says the fees charged should be reduced from $264 to $88 because Rose’s business only has a four cubic yard dumpster emptied four times per month. According to the city’s sanitation guidelines, he does indeed only owe $88. A $264 monthly charge would mean his business was using a six cubic yard dumpster that was emptied eight times a month.

A second business decided to cease trash services with the city and contract with an outside service

On Feb. 8, the mayor’s letter to the utility said Beech Tree Manor was only being charged $25 per month and instead should be paying $1,320 per month because they had a 12 cubic yard dumpster emptied 20 times monthly.

On Feb. 13, the mayor advised J.E.W.S. the nursing facility would no longer need the town’s trash pick up and no longer needed to be charged a sanitation fee.

Representatives from Beech Tree Manor declined to comment on who they contracted with for trash services.

Removing some of those from services will mean a drop in some of the projected revenue.

Between the five people who no longer pay on their sheds, that is a loss of $900 per year.

The mayor says it’s a loss of revenue the council will have to work out.

“We’ll have to work at it,” he said.