Macon-Bibb County residents will begin paying for garbage and recycling services on a yearly basis starting in 2018.
The County Commission upheld a veto this week by Mayor Robert Reichert that paves the way for the annual billing. The first due date under the new payment method will be March 31.
Statements will be mailed out the same time as property tax bills in future years. The cost of 12 months of garbage and recycling collection is $240.
This is the second major change in as many years for Macon-Bibb’s garbage and recycling services.
In 2016, the cost jumped to a monthly rate of $20 as part of a new contract with Advanced Disposal for garbage pickup and an increase in recycling and yard-waste collections by the county.
Voting on Tuesday to override Reichert’s veto of a quarterly billing ordinance were Commissioners Bert Bivins, Virgil Watkins, Mallory Jones, Elaine Lucas and Joe Allen.
Commissioners Gary Bechtel, Al Tillman and Larry Schlesinger voted in support of the mayor’s veto, according to County Commission Clerk Janice Ross.
Commissioner Scotty Shepherd, who previously supported yearly billing, was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.
Six votes were needed to void the veto and stick with the quarterly payments.
Tuesday’s vote ended a lengthy back and forth on how garbage and recycling services would be billed. Some concessions were made throughout a process that started in January of this year:
▪ Disabled and low-income seniors are able to apply for a waiver exempting them from billing;
▪ More leeway for property owners to declare residences as “uninhabitable;”
▪ Not implementing a proposed cost increase for recycling and garbage services.
Reichert and other county officials touted economic benefits they say the new system brings, including helping cover expenses for a Solid Waste Department that had a $1.4 million deficit in fiscal 2016.
There would be additional revenue as the number of parcels being billed jumps by about 6,600 in Bibb County.
“By billing every unit for a full year of service rather than turning that service on and off, we would also see an increase in revenue that would allow us to meet the approved budget,” Interim County Manager Julie Moore and Solid Waste Director Kevin Barkley wrote in an August memo to Reichert.
But for five commissioners, annual payments are unfair to property owners, they said. And some homeowners will pay an even higher monthly amount with it being tacked onto escrow accounts, Jones has said.