Lincoln County’s Board of Commissioners discussed possible courses of action regarding backlash received from recent changes to the county’s noise ordinance and solid waste program at a meeting on Monday.
County Manager Tracy Jackson began each discussion by updating commissioners on the staff’s latest research regarding the matters, as well as the proposed alternative solutions. The Times-News previously reported on the changes regarding the removal of construction and demolition trash containers at convenience sites, implemented July 1 as part of the Fiscal Year 2014-2015 County Budget.
“Our staff has reached out to Republic Services, which, as many of you know, operates a construction and demolition landfill in East Lincoln,” Jackson said. “There seems to be some interest there in opening that up to the public and offering rates that are comparable to what the county charges for commercial demolition disposal. So, that seems to be encouraging, and it’s something we can continue to look into.”
According to its website, Republic Services currently serves 13 million customers and 2,800 municipalities across the nation.
“Hopefully within the next week or two, we’ll have some more information, but it’s something they have to pass up through their corporate chain there,” Jackson said.
Another option Jackson and the county staff explored was re-opening a single convenience site location.
“We had proposed putting in a construction demolition site at the new Optimist Club landfill,” Jackson said. “That may be something where we could work on some plans. We would have to figure out the cost for a scale and the cost for additional staff because it would be more than we have at a typical convenience site. Also, we would have to implement a way to collect payment, which is something we do not do at convenience sites right now…that could be cash, credit or debit.”
While there has been some pushback from county residents, Jackson has seen benefits from the recent changes.
“I will tell you that we have seen some benefits in moving construction and demolition boxes,” he said. “We have seen the tonnages drop about 100 tons across the board from the convenience sites, and we have seen revenues increasing for the landfills over the past month. So, it’s having the intended effect that we were trying to achieve. One of the other things we’re hearing from staff at the convenience sites is that it has improved the flow of traffic at the busier locations. We have gotten compliments from that…people are able to get in and out quicker.”
Jackson also added that the recent changes were expected to bring the county approximately $160,000-$180,000 over the course of the fiscal year, and savings the county would receive in part from not having to haul construction demolition debris from convenience sites to the landfill.
At this time, the county manager is requesting commissioners allot additional time for county staff to continue working on an agreement with Republic Services.
“It would be ideal to give us more time to work with Republic Services on a deal,” Jackson said. “As far as a (short-term solution) option two would be to go back and reverse the policy, but that is not what staff recommends.”
County commissioner Carroll Mitchem was the first to question Jackson about constructing a construction demolition site at the new Optimist Club landfill. According to Jackson, such an endeavor would call for significant expenditure and would not be available until Fiscal Year 2016.
Mitchem, however, said that he was unable to postpone taking action for two years, stressing that it would be unfair to the citizens.
Commissioners also held a lengthy discussion regarding complaints from East Lincoln residents last month on excessive and loud gunfire in their neighborhood.
At their July meeting, commissioners had discussed altering the county’s current noise ordinance to include a firearms restriction based on decibels. However, after speaking with Lincoln County Sheriff David Carpenter, Jackson explained that it would cause significant hardships on law enforcement to enforce that requirement, as the Sheriff’s Office would then be obligated to purchase new equipment as well as increase manpower and training hours.
Commissioners concluded the discussion by agreeing to have Carpenter speak to the board at their next meeting.
Lincoln County’s Board of Commissioners will meet next on Aug. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Citizens Center in Lincolnton.