Starting Oct. 15 Newton County residents will need to have a tag hanging from the mirrors of their vehicles in order to access one of the county’s trash collection convenience centers.
The tags were unveiled at the Newton County Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting Tuesday night, along with the dates and locations for purchasing the new tags.
Newton County Fire Services Chief Jeff Monroe and Human Resources Director Keyra Fray were given the task by County Manager Lloyd Kerr to come up with a system to impose a $50 fee for the use of the centers spread throughout the county.
All 11 centers will require the tags during operating hours of Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In order to purchase the tags, residents need to fill out an application form available at the county’s convenience centers, on Newton County’s website [http://www.co.newton.ga.us/home/showdocument?id=6787], at the Newton County Fire Services Building, 4136 Hwy. 278, or at the Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority, 11325 Brown Bridge Road.
After filling out the application and providing a proof of residency such as tax or utility bills or mortgage or lease agreements, residents can purchase the tags one of three ways. Tags can be purchased online at http://www.co.newton.ga.us with a credit/debit card— with a 3 percent surcharge; by mail with a personal check; at Newton County Fire Services, Newton County Water and Sewerage Authority, or mobile units.
Checks need to be made payable to Newton County, and applications and proof of residency must be mailed to 4136 U.S. 278 #A Covington, GA, 30014.
Tags will go be available for purchase at the Newton County Fire Services, only, on Sept. 15, before being available for purchase at all other locations on Sept. 22.
Among those locations will be the mobile units operated by Newton County Fire Services employees. Fire Services has agreed to temporarily work with the county’s Solid Waste Authority (SWA) in order to disseminate information on the centers’ new tags and sell the tags.
As part of that, a fire services command staff vehicle with laptop and wireless capability will be used for the sale of the tags. Those vehicles, or mobile units, will be stationed at Dollar General Stores throughout the county in order to make the tags more accessible to residents.
“Dollar General is letting us set up there, and giving us a good single point of focus where you can come to that location and get a tag,” Monroe said.
The schedule of the mobile units will be made available at a later date and posted on the county’s website and social media sites.
“It’s our intent to cover Newton County top to bottom and left to right with information and the ability for citizens to purchase these tags easily,” Monroe said.
Other details about the tag that Monroe explained to the board are that they are for one vehicle per tag; if the tag is lost, the first replacement tag will be $25, and additional replacement tags will be $50; there is a limit of 10 trash bags per week per household.
After hearing of the tag program several citizens spoke up wondering why a fee was being imposed.
The BOC decided to charge a $50 fee for the centers during the budget process for fiscal year 2017. Also during that time the centers’ hours were reduced and it was announced that all the centers would close on Feb. 15.
After the county’s operating budget was voted on in August, the BOC signed an intergovernmental agreement with the Newton County SWA, turning over operation of the county’s solid waste stream — including the convenience centers.
If the SWA elected to keep the centers open after February, when they’re slated to close, an additional cost to the tags could be added.
“The original direction I got from the board is the centers, as part of the budget discussions, would be closing in conjunction with the expiration of [Junior] Hilliard’s contract in February,” Kerr said. “If the Solid Waste Authority decides to, in fact, close them, then [the tags] will be good until then. If [the centers] are left open, it will be a discussion for the Solid Waste Authority in what the period of time would be and if there should be an adjustment of fees to continue this.”
The SWA is currently awaiting the results of Requests for Proposals/Information on the best way to operate the county’s solid waste stream before deciding what action to take on the convenience centers.