Jonesboro seeking public input on proposed sanitation fees


Wallace Norrington

JONESBORO — More than 4,000 Jonesboro residents may still end up paying a sanitation fee to pay for a garbage pick-up service currently used by only 600 people.

The city revived discussions about a $180 sanitation fee that could be assessed to residents. It’s possible the fee will be included on residents’ tax bills next year if it’s approved the council next week.

It’s the same issue that stirred up debate among residents a few months ago when it was first proposed, and the debate resurfaced when the council took the issue back up again Monday with residents who rent out properties concerned they’d be stuck paying for their tenants.

There are now two related-yet-separate proposals floating around that relate to the sanitation issue in the city. One is to create a citywide sanitation fee and the other is to create a late fee for people who don’t pay their garbage bills. City leaders want residents to attend Monday’s council meeting and offer comment about the proposals — either pro or con — during a public comment period.

Both issues center around the fact that not enough people are paying for the garbage service to both sustain it and grow enough funds to build replacement equipment, Mayor Joy Day said. She said it costs the city about $180,000 to run the garbage service for a year.

“About 200 of the our 600 customers are not paying their garbage bills,” Day said. “We have a problem here.”

The fee would also pay for other sanitation services such as tree and limb pickup and work to keep public parks clean.

It’s possible the council could vote to implement both measures, although council members haven’t — for the most part — openly shown which way they are leaning on the garbage issue. It’s also possible they could opt to implement the late fee but reject the sanitation fee.

Councilman Wallace Norrington said he wants the residents to give the council an idea of which way they want their elected leaders to go on the matter.

“We need people to come out and comment on this,” he said.

If the city institutes a late fee on the garbage bills, people who don’t pay on time would have to pay about $10 more for their monthly service. People who take the service are already required to pay $15 for each month they have the service. If someone does not pay his or her bill, the city sends public works employees out to collect the person’s garbage can.

The person just has to pay their bill to get the city to send out a public works employee to return the can to the person.

But Councilman Clarence Mann thinks the city should be tougher on the people who don’t pay for the service.

“What I think we should do is put a rubber stamp on their initial bill that says, ‘If you don’t pay this bill by this date, there will be a $10 late fee,’” Mann said. “If they don’t pay on time, then you send another bill with another rubber stamp that says ‘If this bill is not paid within 10 days, your garbage can will be collected and there will be a $50 fee to get it back.’”

The council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at the Jonesboro Police Department headquarters, 170 South Main St. The meeting will begin with public comment and people must sign up in front of the dais as they arrive to address the council during the allotted period.