County may ask Utilities Commission to fund recycling

County may ask Utilities Commission to fund  recycling
June 15
03:00 2017

Forsyth County commissioners are considering asking the City/County Utilities Commission to fund universal curbside recycling pickup as they wait for General Assembly action.

The possibility of universal recycling in unincorporated areas of Forsyth County hit a legal snag when staff found it was ambiguous if the county had the authority under state statute to charge unincorporated households for the service on their annual tax bill. While there is an effort to get a legislative fix attached to the state budget currently being worked on in the General Assembly, County Manager Dudley Watts said the measure faces a “bit of an uphill battle” getting through the General Assembly this year, so the county should consider other sources of funding.

Watts thought using the general fund might have some voters crying foul, since the whole county would be funding a service only for those in unincorporated areas. He said another option is asking the City/Council Utilities Commission to fund the service as a “pilot program.” The Commission funded the city’s recycling program in its early years.

County Commissioner Vice Chair Don Martin said that he supported the idea, but wants an agreement to fund it for three years so it covers the three-year contract the county will negotiate with the service provider.

“I think we have a really good proposal on the table and I’d hate to not be able to take advantage of that,” said Martin.

The lowest bidder for the service, North Davidson Garbage Company, would charge $2.47 a month per household or $29.64 annually. This doesn’t include a fee for the county’s administrative costs, which are still being calculated.

Gloria Whisenhunt cautioned what would happen if the General Assembly didn’t pass their legislation within three years.

“If we start this program and we aren’t successful with this legislation, we may have to take it away again,” she said.

Unincorporated residents already lost subscription curbside recycling once this year when commissioners discontinued the service after a second service provider didn’t renew its contract.

If the county is able to get the Utilities Commission to agree to initially fund recycling, residents wouldn’t be paying a fee for it during that period of time.

During the commissioner’s meeting on Monday, June 12:

*There was a 6-1 vote to publish a $650,000 offer to purchase 537 N. Spruce St. by Spruce Development, LLC to allow for others to make higher upset bids for the property. Commissioner Richard Linville voted “no” because he felt the offer was too far below the property’s appraised $882,700 tax value. The building currently houses a Sheriff’s Office court program, which will relocate, and books from the Central Library, which will be reopening later this summer. The sale is subject to a 60 day examination period, during which the buyer can cancel, with an additional 30 days to close. Spruce Development plans to sale the property and the neighboring parking lot to a developer who will build a $30-$35 million mid-rise apartment complex with a street level grocery store.

*Activist Kim Porter used the public comment period to ask for transparent investigations into the recent deaths of two inmates at the county jail. Martin assured her that county and state investigations are ongoing and their results will be shared with the public.

*A lease was approved for Empowering Lives Guardianship Services LLC to rent 725 N. Highland Avenue for $7,260 a month. Commissioner Fleming El-Amin suggested that the Behavioral Health Plaza there should be renamed after Commissioner Walter Marshall, who passed away in February.

*Commissioners approved the purchase of exterior worn protective vests for the Sheriff’s Office from Lawmen’s Safety Supply, Inc. for $45,673.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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