Whitesburg KY

Jenkins delays action on increasing garbage bills

The Jenkins City Council postponed a discussion on garbage service rate increases until it can gain more solid information about increases in tipping fees and other sanitation associated costs.

Although the issue was tabled for the city council’s December meeting, several council members expressed concerns. Council member Rebecca Amburgey asked for an explanation about the closing of the city’s blue bag recycling program.

Mayor Todd Depriest told Amburgey that the Letcher County Sanitation Department is no longer picking up recyclables in Jenkins. The county sanitation department recently underwent changes in policy, as the Letcher County Fiscal Court raised rates and changed some of its own recycling procedures. Depriest said the county will not pick up any of the city’s recycling and the city can’t afford to take it to the county recycling center near Ice.

The city has struggled throughout the life of its blue bag program to educate the citizens of Jenkins about the benefits of recycling, and Depriest said the program had never really taken off. However, Amburgey said there are a number of people who recycle religiously and expressed her concern that the aluminum cans they had been recycling will end up in the river. Depriest said that cans and other recyclables will be treated like regular garbage and taken to the landfill.

The resulting increase in the amount of trash that goes to the landfill will add to the sanitation department costs, which have been a source of concern in several of the most recent audits. Depriest said that the city’s current audit will be presented soon and he wants to see how the sanitation department is doing in terms of running a balanced budget. Sanitation has traditionally lost money as tipping fees and fuel costs have increased while sanitation rates remained stagnant.

Depriest told Amburgey that people can still take their recycling to the county’s Ice/Cowan recycling facility if they want to do that. He added that part of the sanitation discussions will be to examine the possibility of reviving recycling, but for now, it is dead.

In other business, the council voted to declare several vehicles as surplus and to sell them in whatever way brings the most revenue to the city. Mayor Depriest told the council that three police cars, a Dodge Caravan, a Ford work van, and a Chevy van, are no longer in service, and asked that they be declared surplus. The council voted unanimously to do so and Depriest said that he would look at selling them in the best way to maximize the return, which will probably mean selling them to several different purchasers.

Councilman Chuck Anderson expressed concern about the high rates of speed of people coming through Jenkins in the morning and afternoon. He said that in the afternoon, when there is quite a bit of pedestrian traffic in the city, people drive at an excessive speed and asked Depriest to see about getting some of the radar speed warning signs that are regularly placed along highways to alert motorists of their speed. Anderson also said that gravel trucks from the quarry at Burdine were coming through too fast as well.

Police Chief Jim Stephens told the council he would talk to the management at the Mountain Enterprises plant and ask them to warn their drivers that if they don’t slow down, he will ask for Kentucky Vehicle Enforcement officers to begin ticketing them. He said that usually slows them down for a while.

Depriest reported that the Jenkins Police Department had answered 73 complaints in November and praised its work as well as the Jenkins Volunteer Fire Department, which had 23 calls in November. The JVFD responded to three vehicle accidents with injuries and six EMS calls in addition to other calls.

In other city business:

• Ken Reid of Nesbitt Engineering reported that the Burdine Water Project is about 95 percent complete, except for a couple of meters in Number Two Bottom. He added that two valves will need to be installed to isolate the system, and said that with so many lines in the area that no one knows much about, it will take a while to find the right ones. Progress is ongoing in the Dunham Water Project as well.

• The council approved purchasing a $25 gift card for each city employee to allow him or her to get a ham or turkey for Christmas. Councilman Rick Damron asked that the cards be purchased for use at a local grocery and the council agreed.

• The next council meeting will be on Monday, January 4, at 7 p.m. in city hall.

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