VALDOSTA — The hot topic issue of solid waste was among priorities discussed Friday during the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners mid-year retreat at the James H. Rainwater Conference Center.

“We’ve looked at the solid-waste management issue from every possible angle and will have a solid-waste management plan by Sept. 9,” said Commission Chairman Rod Casey. “This plan will be explained in detail to the public and a campaign will also be held to make sure that everyone is informed as the plan is phased in through Dec. 31.”

Current collection centers shall remain open for collection of household, recyclable, and yard waste until Dec. 31, 2008, for incorporated residents.

Users of these facilities must be legal residents of the unincorporated areas of Lowndes County, said Lowndes County Manager Joe Pritchard. “Recently, we’ve had such a reduction in use, it buys us more operational time.”

Lowndes County is not terminating any full-time staff, Pritchard said, adding, “They will be absorbed into the program, but we will probably not need as many part-time workers.”

The solid-waste program proposal that will be reviewed by the commission after Dec. 31, includes some of the following:

Service will be weekly household collection; 60-70 or 90-100 gallon containers; bi-weekly recyclable collection; 35-gallon containers minimum; bi-weekly yard-waste collection, and bulky items; must be collected within 24 working hours of call for service and charges are on a per-call basis with a maximum per-haul charge of $25 (500-pound limit per single collection).

Citizens with medical disabilities have to show proof of inability to carry waste to the street and proof that no other occupant is available or able to carry waste to the street. Those citizens will be eligible for back-door collection at no additional cost.

As a non-exclusive franchise agreement, vendors will submit application for operation in Lowndes County. In order to operate in Lowndes County, a vendor must submit a valid Lowndes County business license, proof of insurance, vehicles and equipment shall be “late model” and specifically designed for collection of solid waste. Vendors must also provide liability insurance and performance bond.

Agreement requires vendors to offer weekly curbside collection of household waste and a minimum bi-weekly collection of recyclable and yard waste.

Rate for this service shall not exceed $16.50 per month.

These are a few of the possible conditions and regulations of the proposed solid-waste program for mandatory curbside pickup to possibly be implemented after Dec. 31.

In other business:

— After years of discussion of a possible Lowndes County Board of Commissioners expansion, a consensus on what is best for the board’s expansion with the growing population has yet to be reached. “I think we have come to a common denominator, and while we can’t all get what we want, we have arrived at a time for a five-person commission. We feel strongly about the expansion in that representing 36,000 people in a single district is not easy,” said Commissioner Edgar Roberts.

Commissioner Richard Lee suggested a five-voting district commission with a non-voting chairman. “We have all worked diligently and hard. An expansion lessens the number of people we represent and is the best middle-grounds approach,” said Lee.

Commissioner G. Robert Carter said that he supports his district in what the constituents want, which is a seven-person commission.

— The overall consensus for many of Lowndes County’s projects, including the Judicial Complex and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) projects, are on schedule for completion and on target for their budgets.

“I was very excited to see how close we were to completion with some projects,” said Lee. Additionally, Roberts was pleased with the construction on James Road, which is preparing to go to bid in 60 days for widening and sewer.

Finance Director Stephanie Black gave a recap of SPLOST V funds available as of June 30, with $19,837,185 in expenditures for roads, streets, and bridges and $20,722,779 for expenditures in capital outlay.

— The commissioners plan to work on an agreement by narrowing objectives and creating accountability structure for an Industrial Authority Intergovernmental agreement. During the discussion, an assessment period of five years was suggested to be included within the agreement.

— The purchase of the Tommy Griner property was also discussed for the possibility of additional parking or a new health district department. The possible property acquisition is to be discussed in a later executive session.

— Parks and Recreation Authority Director Russ Mast addressed the commissioners and Lowndes County staff in a brief update on the authority.

“All seven members of the authority work well with each other, and everyone has been very committed without personal agendas," Mast said. He also spoke about new programming for Parks and Recreation as well as possible programming to address problems at Langdale Park and accommodations for the soccer community.

Lowndes County Board of Commissioners next regular session meeting will be 5:30 p.m., Sept. 9.

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