By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Atmore Mayor Jim Staff and city council members discussed several topics during a workshop held prior to the Monday (January 23) council meeting, but the subject of trash bins on personal property drew the most conversation.
Staff and council members Webb Nall, Eunice Johnson and Chris Harrison agreed that the bins — some made of wood, others made of wire or plastic — can become an eyesore if the person living on the property doesn’t keep them tidy.
“They are unsafe [because the garbage is often scattered around the bin], and they make the city look bad,” Johnson said. “You see them on just about every street in District 3.”
Nall (District 1) and Harrison (District 5) pointed out that the enclosures, in which garbage bags are placed for pickup by city crews, have become commonplace across the city.
“I agree [with Johnson],” Harrison said. “A lot of them are unsightly, although some people have nice ones, made out of wood or whatever.”
Staff said bags that tear, along with unbagged garbage, create the biggest problem.
“Our garbage people have to reach down in there to get [the bags],” the mayor said. “If they tear, it’s not up to them [city employees] to clean it up. The individual homeowner is responsible for that.”
Harrison reminded the mayor of such a problem that arose on McKenzie Drive.
“The city workers would grab the bag, and it would tear,” he said. “The residents wanted to know who cleans out the bin. When the bins get filled up from busted bags, they started throwing garbage on the ground.”
Johnson asked if “hobos” [plastic garbage cans] and a new garbage truck that could pick them up would be the answer to the problem, but Staff said such a purchase was cost-prohibitive.
City Clerk Becca Smith said she had suggested to the mayor that the city quit picking up solid waste and contract with a private company to provide the service.
“I said to Jim a while back, instead of buying another garbage truck … that we look at how much it would cost to go with Allied or somebody,” Smith said. “Then those workers [who currently man city garbage trucks] can be doing something else.”
Harrison said he thought such a move was a good idea, especially with the problem the city is having in finding employees, and Smith asked if there was a need to move forward with such a plan, or with a resolution banning such enclosures within the city.
“So, do we talk to the attorney about drawing something up, saying that you can’t have those?” she asked, but the mayor and council did not respond.
The group also discussed enrollment of each of the city’s employees in the Air Medcare program, which covers the employee and his or her family members if they require the use of an air ambulance helicopter for transport from one hospital to another, or from a wreck site.
The cost is only $70 per employee, which Staff pointed out was “a whole lot cheaper than you can get it on the street.”
The workshop also included brief discussion of the impending city paving project, which will proceed with a late-February opening of bids. Smith said the city expects “within three weeks” that local Certified Public Accounting firm Waller, Crook and Jones will complete and present the Fiscal Year 2021 audit, which is needed to secure financing for the project.
Staff also announced during the workshop that completion is expected “within the next week or so” of the CSX rail spur that will serve the Coastal Growers peanut shelling plant and other local businesses, and which is expected to generate several ancillary businesses.