Commercial garbage collection rates in the city of Pineville will be going up, some substantially, as the city renewed it’s contract with Waste Connection during a special called meeting on Monday.

Residential rates will stay at $13.00 for the first two years of the new contract, then increase to $13.50 in year three and $14.00 in years four and five. The water company will continue to bill residential and church customers for garbage collection while Waste Connection will start directly billing commercial customers.

Some commercial customers could see their bills triple. Mayor Scott Madon gave an example from a restaurant in town. They had been paying $21 for three dumpsters but should have been paying $65 under the current contract. Under the new contract the bill for three dumpsters would jump to $179.

“Commercial customers can expect some increases and it’s based on usage,” Madon said. “Some people may be able to adjust the number of canisters they are using. The ones that get picked up daily are the ones that are really going to see an increase. I think the school is going to get hit the worst. The rate these people were paying was for getting garbage picked up one day a week and it was getting picked up every day.”

Waste Connection bought out Poff Sanitation last year and is the city’s current provider. Madon said the city advertised for bids and even talked to some other companies but Waste Connection was the only one to submit a bid.

“The 109 Board passed a substantial increase to the garbage folks and of couse they passed that on to us,” he said. “It’s about like the phone company. Nobody else submitted a bid so we were kind of at their mercy.”

He said the city has done a lot to reduce the amount of garbage it produces through the recycling program and installing an electric gate around their dumpsters in Wallsend.

“We went from having that one dumped every week to every six weeks so we’ve cut down on our amount of garbage a lot,” he said. “Hopefully a lot of our businesses will be able to do the same thing.”

Madon was pleased to be able to keep the residential rate as low as it is.

“Middlesboro’s is $14.25 now so that’s a pretty good residential rate for us,” he said.

The council also approved the second reading of an ordinance authorizing the Bell County Sheriff to bill and collect property taxes for the city.

“The Sheriff collects taxes for the city of Middlesboro and all three school systems in Bell County so we decided to do that for a couple of reasons,” Madon said. “One, it makes it like a one-stop shop if you go to pay your county taxes you can pay your city, too, instead of having to come to City Hall. Also, we get 100-percent collections that way.”

Pineville residents will no longer pay their taxes at City Hall. Instead, they will pay them at the Sheriff’s Office.

“They’ll mail them out the same and people will still be able to get the same discounts if they pay early,” Madon said. “At the end of the tax season the county sells all of the outstanding taxes and ours would be included in that so we would get 100 percent of our projected tax revenue. We’ve been collecting about 95-percent, which is really good. But this will make sure we get all of it.”

Madon gave a brief update on Courthouse Square project, saying the city is planning for work to start on June 1, 2021. The work is expected to take nine to 12 months and could be completed by the time Boone’s Ridge is projected to open in March of 2022.

 “The Virginia Avenue part of it won’t be too bad, but when we get up around the courthouse and going in eight feet around the square to add parking it could get tricky,” he said.

Madon said he had spoken with David Ledford last week about Boone’s Ridge, the Appalachian Wildlife Center. You can now go to www.boonesridge.com and see a live countdown to the center’s opening.

“Their projected opening is March of 2022. They are looking at starting construction in October and they’ve always said it would take 15 to 18 months to complete,” Madon said. “I know people have gotten a bit weary on the project because there hasn’t been a lot going on. What happened was they were dealing with a bank out in Nevada and the guy they were dealing with either got fired or laid off during COVID. So they had to explain everything to a new banker all over again and had to fly out there twice. They wound up having to get everything financed through that bank and they had to redo a new survey.

“I’m a firm believer that the project is a go. It’s going to happen.”

The council also voted to accept the 2019-20 Fiscal Year Audit report.

“We had a good audit. No findings or anything,” Madon said. “We’re pleased and thankful to get that behind us. It’s always a good feeling to get the audit behind you, especially if you have a good one.”

The council also approved the second reading of an update to the city’s ordinance on flood plain management and prevention. Madon said there were no changes in how the ordinance affects people but it hadn’t been updated since 2015 and FEMA had requested the city update it.

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