Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert has vetoed an ordinance that would have allowed residents to continue paying their garbage and recycling bills once a quarter.
In a letter sent to commissioners Wednesday, Reichert said going to an annual payment provides much-needed revenue for the county’s Solid Waste Department, while also improving services. The County Commission voted 5-4 on Aug. 15 in favor of the quarterly payment ordinance, reversing an earlier decision this year to move to yearly bills.
Six votes are now needed to override the mayor’s veto — just Reichert’s third since consolidation. The item will be on the Sept. 5 County Commission meeting agenda, Macon-Bibb spokesman Chris Floore said.
Commissioners heard from many residents who said that having to pay the garbage bill at one time would place an unfair burden on them, especially when property taxes are rising this year. Reichert said he understood the inconvenience it could cause people.
“If the veto is sustained, I will commit to changing the due date for this first year to March 31, 2018,” Reichert wrote in the letter. “This will allow people time to prepare and have a smoother transition. For subsequent years, the Tax Commissioner is already exploring ways to work with people who would like to make payments.”
Garbage and recycling bills would later be mailed out at the same time as property tax bills. Some Bibb officials have said the percentage of collections increased in other communities when garbage bills were sent out annually.
The annual measure would also result in an additional 6,600 parcels being billed, meaning more revenue for the county. Without the extra money, Macon-Bibb does not have enough funds to purchase new trucks needed to provide sufficient waste collection services, according to a memo sent to Reichert by Interim County Manager Julie Moore and Solid Waste Director Kevin Barkley.
“Without trucks and staff, we would have to seriously consider outsourcing recycling and bulk waste collection service to ADS, which add more fees to what we’re already paying them,” the memo said.
Quarterly payments for garbage and recycling services are $60, and an annual payment would be $240.
Commissioner Virgil Watkins said he expected the mayor’s veto, but he remains against the annual billing.
“We disagree on how we feel the numbers are panning out in general,” he said Wednesday evening. “We both want the same thing: a better bottom line for the county. I don’t see our billing method being the thing that’s broke.”