A proposal by the county administration to start a single system of garbage collection for all of unincorporated Shelby County for a $25 monthly fee is off the table, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell told a townhall meeting Thursday, Sept. 20, at Bolton High School.
“It’s quite evident that people don’t want it,” Luttrell said at the latest in a series of public meetings in which criticism of the plan has been withering. “So, now we are looking at other proposals. We’ve heard recycling. We’ve heard receptacles at a variety of locations, (using) neighborhood associations … That’s what we’ll be working on.”
Luttrell and Shelby County Public Works Director Tom Needham also said they may explore the idea of letting a section of the unincorporated county opt into county garbage collection for a fee if enough residents in an area indicate they want that option.
Luttrell said the county could also implement a standard for private garbage collection firms servicing areas of unincorporated Shelby County that would include when trash trucks could be on the road.
The meeting at Bolton High School in unincorporated north Shelby County drew a smaller crowd of approximately 50 people. But the opinions opposing the original proposal were just as vehement. No one speaking expressed any kind of approval for the idea. Luttrell and Needham repeatedly told the opponents that the proposal was dead. It didn’t lessen the opposition.
Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland, who represents the area, set the stage by following Luttrell and Needham to the stage of the high school theater.
“How many of y’all in here can honest to God say you trust county government?” Roland began. “We’ve got three. … Ten commissioners inside the (Memphis) city limits will pass this on you and will if they have a chance,” he continued, talking about the passage of a resolution covering one part of the county and then the addition of other areas at a later date.
“We’re not here to debate whether county government is good or bad,” Luttrell said. “We’re here to address a problem across this county. Terry, I would ask you to be respectful.”
“If you will be honest with the people, I will be respectful,” Roland replied.
“My mother taught me to be civil and I’m going to be civil,” Luttrell said. “Let’s stay on subject.”
Luttrell said the subject includes the 12 percent of county residents who do not have a garbage pick-up service provided by a private company or as a direct function of a local government. A county ordinance requires every household to have some means of garbage pick-up. But Luttrell said the ordinance cannot be adequately enforced.