By Joel Hall
As of Jan. 1, 2010, the City of Jonesboro will collect garbage within the city limits. On Monday, the city council voted to let its current private, garbage-collection contract, with Robertson Sanitation, expire at the end of the year.
The vote was 5-1 in favor of having the city take over the service, with Councilman Bobby Wiggins opposed to the move.
The council agreed to charge an estimated 725 subscribers $15 per month, once it takes over - the same price Robertson Sanitation currently charges, according to city officials.
Wiggins opposed the change, arguing that private companies would be able to do the service at a cheaper rate than the city. He said he believes the city will have to assume "start-up costs" to run the service.
"No city employee will lose their job, if we continue with private garbage-collection service," Wiggins said. "I don't think the city should get into that business, because it will be a lot more headaches."
The city has a garbage truck it purchased for $125,480 in April 2007. It has been making yearly payments on the truck since 2007, but has not used the truck for garbage pickup.
In May, Jonesboro Mayor Luther Maddox said the city intends to purchase a second garbage truck, once payments are finished on the first truck in November of 2011.
Councilman Clarence Mann, who has led city efforts to de-privatize the service, said by doing the service itself, the city stands to net about $50,000 a year. He believes keeping the money in Jonesboro will be better for the city in the long run.
"I feel like whatever we can do to be better for ourselves, we'll be better off," Mann said. "We've already got everything prepared, and in motion. Nothing is going to change in any way, except the bills will be made to the City of Jonesboro, instead of Robertson.
"A lot of people lately have been complaining about their garbage being missed," Mann continued. "When you notify Robertson, it usually takes them a few days to respond. If that happens with the city taking care of it, we can send somebody right back out."
Mann said Dec. 31 will mark the end of Robertson Sanitation's five-year garbage-collection contract with the city.
In other action, the city voted to lower the speed limit on Jonesboro Road, between Ga. Highway 138 and the fork at North Avenue and North Main Street, from 45 miles an hour, to 35 miles per hour. The action will make all roads within the city limits - with the exception of Tara Boulevard - 35 miles per hour.
The motion narrowly passed, with Mayor Maddox breaking a tie among the council members. Councilmen Wallace Norrington, Billy Powell, and Wiggins voted for the change, while Councilmen Rick Yonce, Roger Grider, and Mann voted against it.
Powell believes the change will help make that stretch of Jonesboro Road - encompassing two major eateries, El Tarasco and Butch's Chicken House - much safer for travelers.
"It's been something we have been talking about for a while," Powell said. "The people just go through there so fast now. With the speed limit being 45 [miles per hour], you have people going 50 or 60 [miles per hour]. It's just too fast for that area."
Jonesboro Police Maj. Tim Jessup said the speed limit will not be enforced until a couple of weeks after the city has posted new speed limit signs. He said it will take a few weeks longer before the city will have state approval to patrol the area with speed-detecting radar equipment.
"We have a list [of approved streets] and we have to have approval to run radar on that stretch," Jessup said. "I have to go to GDOT [the Georgia Department of Transportation] to get approval for that. There are a lot of speeders [on Jonesboro Road]. If we can get it to where we can enforce it with radar and lasers, that will make it easier to patrol."