The City of Jenkins is threatening to crack down on customers in the Joe’s Branch community who aren’t paying their monthly garbage bills.
The Jenkins City Council voted unanimously at its April meeting Monday to send letters to 17 Joe’s Branch residents telling them the city will stop collecting their garbage if they don’t pay their overdue bills. The letters will also warn the residents they will be prosecuted if they dispose of their trash illegally.
The council took the action after City Manager Todd DePriest told the council that tipping fees at the Pike County landfill will soon go up by 20 percent, from $40 to $50 per ton. DePriest told the council the Letcher County Fiscal Court has already designated a committee to look at ways to lower collection costs and said Jenkins needs to look for solutions as well.
Council Member Rebecca Terrill Amburgey said the city should do all it can to encourage blue bag recycling, which can keep a signifi- cant amount of recyclable material out of the landfill. DePriest said recycling was up for April, but not nearly enough to offset the extra $10 per ton. He added that private haulers were charging $15 per ton just to haul the garbage. Mayor G.C. Kincer said the city needs to look at the service it provides to unincorporated areas such as Joe’s Branch and DePriest replied that of the 22 customers the city has in Joe’s Branch, 17 don’t pay their bills — a number of them having never paid.
“They are billed and they don’t pay,” said DePriest. “We pick it up.”
Councilman Rick Damron suggested adding a late fee to the delinquent bills and making a strong effort to collect them. Terrill-Amburgey said the city should cease picking up the trash in Joe’s Branch but City Attorney Randall Tackett said the Letcher County Sanitation Department would have to resume those pickups. DePriest suggested sending the Joe’s Branch customers a letter explaining the situation. Terrill- Amburgey said the city should add that if the city discontinues garbage collection and some of the Joe’s Branch residents revert to throwing trash in the creek, the city will turn them in to the Letcher County Litter Warden. Tackett said the city has the right to cut off customers who aren’t paying their bills and Terrill-Amburgey moved to cut off pick-up to those customers who aren’t paying their bills.
The council voted unanimously in favor of Terrill-Amburgey’s motion and Tackett suggested it look at all the services the city provides to people who live outside the city limits and pay no city taxes. Damron added a suggestion to make an aggressive effort to collect the delinquent bills, but Kincer said the chances are slim.
Matt Curtis of Nesbitt Engineering gave a short progress report on Phase I of the city’s water line replacement project and presented the council with several invoices connected to water and sewer projects. Curtis said most of the new lines installed in Phase I have been pressurized and things are going well. He added that the non-potable water system is now functioning at the Burdine Sewer Plant and allows workers to use “gray water” to wash down beds and other equipment without using treated water.
The council voted unanimously to pay the invoices Curtis presented, including one to K. Carrender, contractor on Phase I, for $162,910.74 for work done from February 12 through March 18, and approved a change order to allow Carrender to place lines under a back road instead of a ditch running along Route 805. Curtis said the additional $2 per foot in the request represented blacktop and extra pipe fittings and is being done to make subsequent maintenance on the line safer. He also said that most replacement paving would have to be redone because it was done too late in the year last fall and didn’t set well. The council also approved payment of $12,494.60 to Nesbitt Engineering for its work on Phase I through March 18 and $7,500 to Ryan Kirby of Community and Economic Development Associates of Richmond for his work on the project funding.
The council approved an $18,800 payment of the final invoice to H20, contractor on the Number Two Bottom Project, for work on the sewer plant and an invoice for Nesbitt Engineering for $3,241.41 for its work on the Number Two Bottom Project. The council also approved an invoice for $4,395 for work done by Randall Tackett on the Payne Gap Water Project. Curtis said $2,800 is left over on the Number Two Bottom Project that can be spent on lab equipment for the sewer plant.
Curtis told the council that both he and Ken Reid are monitoring the expenditure of grant funds on the various water and sewer projects to make sure it does not exceed the amount of funding allotted and fall back to the city. Curtis told the council he is being particularly careful because, “I don’t want to be the one to stand in front of you and say that we went over, and I guarantee I would be the one to have to say it.”
Curtis added that the first two sections of the Payne Gap Water Project will go to bid soon and the first section will be paid for with coal severance funds allocated by the Letcher County Fiscal Court. He said an encroachment permit with the Kentucky Department of Transportation is still being negotiated.
In other business, council member Carol Anne Litts asked Kincer to look into a parking situation that has created an ongoing danger to motorists on Lakeside Drive. Litts said the people living in a house formerly owned by Ballard Newsome were parking on the sidewalk and it created a hazard because two cars can’t pass going in different directions when they meet. Councilman Robert Adams added that children and other pedestrians walking on the sidewalk have to go into the street to get around the car.
Kincer said he had offered the people a spot at the water plant (directly across the street), but they aren’t using it and told the council he will direct Police Chief Adam Swindall to order officers to ticket cars parked on the sidewalk. This led to a discussion about parking on the street and sidewalks in other areas and Adams said that parking at the curb creates a one-way street on most city streets. Kincer said he will look at city ordinances to seek a solution.
After asking the council’s permission to skip over parts of the agenda, Mayor G.C. Kincer said the council would address the most pressing items of business and put the rest off until the next meeting.
Monday’s meeting was shortened by a storm that resulted in the loss of electricity. Lit only by the fading light of the day and emergency lights provided by the Jenkins Volunteer Fire Department, the meeting room had a summer camp feel, moving Terrill- Amburgey to joke that attendees could all gather round and sing “Kumbaya.”
In reports submitted by city departments:
• The Jenkins Water Department produced 14,814,000 gallons of treated water in March and sold 4,622,000 gallons for a difference of 10,192,000 or 69 percent. Unaccounted losses totaled 6,954,000 or 47 percent.
• Solid Waste reported hauling 104 tons of garbage for a cost of $4,176 in tipping fees. The city collected 692 blue bags of recyclables, up 238 from February.
• The Jenkins Police Department reported receiving 117 complaints, including nine for vehicle collisions, and making nine arrests. It issued 11 warnings and 12 citations. Officer Josh Richardson is in training at the Police Academy in Richmond and the department has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase a fourwheel drive vehicle. The grant will be available in the next round of funding. The department was also awarded a Safety Grant from the Kentucky League of Cities and grants for body armor and digital radios are in process. Daniel Caudill was hired as an officer.
• The Jenkins Volunteer Fire Department made 18 runs in March, with four for fires, one for EMS, four for public service, and one to respond to gas smells. The new fire truck is in service.
• The council voted unanimously to allow the Church of God of Prophecy Youth Group to hold a roadblock in July.