Mandatory trash pickup not bad idea

-A A +A
By Ben Carlson

You could have knocked me over with a feather when Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway said that 35 percent of Anderson County residents don’t have their trash collected each week.
While pondering Conway’s trial balloon of making trash collection mandatory and putting the cost of doing so on property tax bills, I figured that percentage certainly couldn’t be above 10, could it?
Granted, I live in town and can’t imagine what I would do with my barrel of trash each week were it not for the garbage man rolling noisily through my   each Monday morning before sunrise.
My gut tells me that mandatory trash collection is the right thing to do. While it would certainly be a burden on some, it would also put an end to at least most of the problems business owners have with people dumping their trash in Dumpsters, and give those who can’t or won’t pay the $35-$40 quarterly trash charge a way to legally get rid of their trash.
Granted, there are those who burn their trash and don’t need it collected, but I can’t help but wonder exactly what they do with the stuff that doesn’t burn, or if some of what does is particularly poor for the environment. Yes, it’s your land, but it’s our air, my friend.
Then there are the landlords who will be forced to increase their rent to pay higher property tax bills.
I wonder, though, where landlords think their tenants are dumping their trash if they aren’t getting it picked up.
And of course there are the genuine green-types who recycle everything and throw away nothing. For that effort, perhaps they should get a trash credit on their tax bill, if they can prove it.
Those issues aside, if everyone is getting their garbage collected the price for doing so should come down considerably. The trash company is like any other, and while there’s certainly expenses associated with increasing stops 35 percent along with additional trucks and workers, it stands to reason that every stop they make is profitable, or they wouldn’t be doing it at all.
Plus, instead of sending out thousands of quarterly invoices, the trash company could send just one to the fiscal court, eliminating a huge billing and accounts receivable expenses.
As for the $3.12 per month fee to have the trash company collect recycling, (see page A1) my gut and head are both for that option.

Speaking of account receivables …
I hope I wasn’t the only one who attended last Wednesday’s board of health meeting who was taken aback after hearing the director unable to offer even a ballpark figure on how much the department has in receivables.
Receivables are funds that have been billed but not yet collected, in most cases by businesses.
Granted, the health department isn’t a business, if for no other reason than that it can’t refuse its services based on a customer’s ability to pay.
Try that at the grocery store and you’ll end up with a free ride in a police car.
Nevertheless, the department does have money it’s owed, either from Medicaid, Humana or from customers who can pay at least something for services.
Those with even a slight amount of business savvy will say that unless a manager has a handle on what’s in his or her receivables, they cannot truly have a grasp on their operation’s financial status.
I know this: Were I asked, I could ballpark the answer fairly well and within minutes print a report that would tell the name and amounts of anyone who owes money for ads purchased in this paper.
That the health director cannot do the same tells me something I’d prefer not to believe, but numbers require me to at least consider: that he isn’t paying attention to the bottom line as well as he should and him not doing so is getting mighty expensive for those funding his operation.
That would be you and I, my friends.