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Covington to up solid waste fees
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City of Covington solid waste customers may soon have to pay a few extra dollars on their monthly bill for the pick up of yard debris.

The Covington City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance to change charges to solid waste for approximately 3,700 residential customers. The council voted 4-0, Monday (council members Michael Whatley and Janet Goodman were absent) to raise the monthly solid waste fee by $3 for residents and $1.50 for seniors.

Deputy City Manager Billy Bouchillon said the city received a notice of violation from the Environmental Protection Division after a mulch fire at a recycling center on July 2 caused numerous environmental problems. He said the city now has to inform EPD that they will handle the process of turning yard debris into mulch a different way.

"Every three months, we're going to haul this stuff to the same place. Then we're going to grind it and haul it to Pratt Industries in Conyers, which will burn the mulch for fuel," Bouchillion said during an interview on Tuesday morning.
He explained that it will cost the city an additional $100,000 to $130,000 a year to grind and haul off yard debris, and the extra costs will necessitate the increase in customers' bills.

"We're already losing money in that department. We can't take on another process without increasing fees," Bouchillon said.

The council will hear a second reading of the ordinance at their next meeting in August, and if approved, Bouchillon said residents could see an increase on their bill in September.

In related news, the council also discussed the possibility of requiring residents to use paper bags for their yard debris.

"We would like to consider the bags. If we agree for the city to use those, we would provide them here for customers for a fee," City Manager Steve Horton said.
Mayor Ronnie Johnston also commented on providing paper bags to residents.

"I think the bag would be better aesthetically. Plus, it does put us in a better position to get this stuff out of the way of the storm water," Johnston said.

Horton said the bags could prevent residents from putting things other than yard debris on the curb.

"When people just pile things out on the curb and they're not required to put anything in the bag, it's easy to pile things that are not yard waste," Horton said. "At least the bags will lessen the likelihood of a lot of other things being covered out there."

The city council also discussed several other items on their agenda.

Council voted 4-0 to allow the sell of alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption at both the Ashton Hills Golf Club Restaurant and the Ashton Hills Golf Club Golf Course located at 10400 Eagle Drive.

Council voted to keep the same millage rate of 8.2, use BB&T for their banking services, and also approved a motion to look at bids to purchase a new pick-up truck for the Gas Department.

City Manager Steve Horton discussed an agreement with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Bankruptcy Noticing Center. Horton said the agreement will allow the Bankruptcy Noticing Center to inform the city of bankruptcies online. Council approved the agreement pending legal review.

Council members also approved backing a loan for the Covington Municipal Airport Authority for the construction of airport hangars and for city attorney's to create a intergovernmental agreement between the city and the authority for the mayor to sign.

Also during the meeting, council approved for the Community on Our Knees event to be moved from August 4 to August 11 and thanked sponsors and everyone involved with the Independence in the Park celebration.