City Council Discusses Commercial Garbage Program

 In Local News

Newberry City Council discussed Thursday implementing a uniform $15 per account fee for solid waste collection for those businesses and residences located within the central business district.

With the City of Newberry ending their commercial garbage pickup at the end of September, Interim City Manager Ed Driggers told council he wanted to ensure everyone was on the same page and knew all circumstances involving downtown’s commercial garbage in the central commercial district.

Driggers put together a map for council identifying the central business district downtown, along with the discovery that while some businesses were paying for commercial garbage pickup, others were not.

Of those not paying for collection, some use downtown community bins, Driggers acknowledged.

“When we start looking at moving forward, we know that there are these ‘community bins,’ and we’ll have a responsibility for the collection for those bins,” he said.

The City of Newberry plans to keep the community bins downtown, contracting with a private carrier at a cost to the city to empty them. To subsidize that cost, council asked Driggers to move forward with the idea of each customer with a city electric account in the central business district paying a $15 fee for solid waste collection.

Several estimates were presented to council during the work session, with the fee implementation being the only way to subsidize the funding the city would be using to pay the private carrier to empty the community bins.

Other estimates included losses of over $20,000 or more to the city.

With each customer paying $15 monthly, Driggers said they estimate a net yearly revenue of $6,708. However, he said they felt that number would get closer to zero and be revenue neutral as they estimate the city would have to add more containers and/or pickups which will incur additional costs to the city.

This change requires a city ordinance, with first reading planned to bring before council on Tuesday, September 12.

The ordinance would require two readings before it could be put into place.

Council expressed that they would like city staff to draft a letter to be sent to all in the central business district that this would impact so they’d be aware ahead of the changes.

Also discussed by council were several city limits signs that had been in place a long time and were showing their age and the possibility of having those removed.

Driggers said with today’s technology and dispatch, that there was no reason from a public safety perspective (police, fire, EMS) that the signs needed to stay in place, especially if they weren’t in the best condition.

If there were locations that council felt would be more appropriate for modern signage on a smaller scale, similar to the city entrance signs, Driggers said that could also be discussed for the future.

Other Discussion
Other discussion of council included evaluations happening city-wide on identifying narrow streets. Because Newberry is a historic city, Driggers said we would have many narrow streets by today’s standards.

While Driggers said the city had many streets that were narrow relative to safely being able to operate equipment such as garbage collection, or public safety equipment, his belief was that we did not want to come in with many “no parking” signs.

“The regulation of public streets is the authority of council,” he said.

Parking violations on city streets are non-emergency service calls, Driggers said and there would be the expectation of enforcement with the implementation of any no parking signs.

City staff and council agreed to monitor any safety concerns on streets on a case-by-case basis with any recommendations being brought forward to council.

“We want to make sure with all of our residents that this is something we’re giving attention to,” he said. “But we have to approach that in a very intentional way.”

Under public comment, Mandy Butler, city resident expressed concerns over the recent change in housing in her neighborhood around Reid and Nance Streets with the new, duplex housing.

The residents in the newly constructed housing, she said were blocking their driveway and causing disturbances in the area.

Driggers told council that the city’s police chief had visited the residents, spoken with them and addressed that certain behaviors could not take place there.

The city is in the process of ordering signs addressing the blocking of driveways and parking along the curbing. The Public Works department would soon be painting yellow lines along the curb in the no parking zones, he said.

Newberry City Council will hold their next meeting on Tuesday, September 12 at 7 p.m.