January 21, 2009 Edition

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Hoxie sets meeting
on sanitation issue

Leslie Ginn
Staff Writer

The Hoxie City Council set a special meeting for Tuesday to make a final decision on the city's sanitation procedures. This meeting will conclude a effort to improve the cost-efficiency of the garbage pickup service provided to Hoxie residents.

A council decision, in reaction to high gas prices, was made in July to cut back garbage pick-up to only one day per week. The city began this practice the first week in August.

Also at the July meeting, in response to a concern expressed by resident Harold Hays, a decision was made to return to the practice of having two employees, in addition to the driver, on the truck when collecting garbage.

A public meeting was held in November to survey residents' desires. At that meeting, residents expressed a willingness to pay more for garbage service, if necessary, as long as there was pick up two times a week.

City hall officials had also received numerous complaints regarding the once-weekly pickups, and the council voted unanimously in November to return to twice weekly pick-up. Concern, however, was expressed for older residents on a fixed income who would be spending more for a service they didn't require.

In addition, resident Danny Kopp III met with the city council in October to explain his findings on the expenses associated with garbage pickup. At that time, Mayor Donnie Roberts requested a committee be formed including Dewey Scott, Kopp, Harold D. Hayes Jr. and Scott Downum of Downums Waste Services, Inc., as well as others, to explore options and the cost associated with each.

The sanitation committee meeting was held Dec. 4 and was attended by 18 residents. According to Scott, 14 of the 18 residents voted to recommend that the city of Hoxie workers collect garbage two times per week and drive the trucks to the Paragould landfill when full.

He said they also requested the city to use two workers to load with a designated driver and recommended that the service be paid for with a portion of the cost on the water bill supplemented with a percentage of city sales tax. They voted to add a total of $1.50 to the water bill to result in a total of $8.50 per month.

This, along with other top options, were presented to the city council during their meeting in December. The council decided at that time to take a month to review the presented information.

"The overall feeling of the residents is for the council to finally just make a decision that ensures two pickups each week," said city council member Jim Kirksey during the January council meeting.

Richard Combs, council member, said, "We are already running in a deficit regarding sanitation for this year. We need to make a decision."

Also being considered is whether to use a local transfer station provided by Downums Waste Service, Inc., or to take the garbage directly to the landfill in Paragould.

In January of 2008, the city entered a one-year probationary contract with Downums to use their transfer station. The agreement was expected to be highly economical because the station is located in Hoxie. The contract ended on Jan. 13, 2009, and council members will have to decide whether to continue using the transfer station.

Scott Downum addressed the council at the January meeting and told members that Downums would not require a contract if Hoxie sanitation wants to use the local transfer station at any time.

"We will be supportive of whatever decision the council makes," Downum said.

A desire to bring this matter to a positive and timely conclusion was expressed by all council members.

Hoxie's civil attorney, Robert Gibson, requested at least 10 days to accurately draw up ordinances to address both how to dispose of the trash and how to pay for it. These ordinances will be voted on at Tuesday's meeting, which will be at 6:30 p.m. at city hall. The meeting is open to the public.

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