On October 21st, 2008 The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners voted to adopt an amendment to the county garbage disposal ordinance. The amendment is entitled Amendment to Gwinnett County Solid Waste Collection and Disposal Service Ordinance (you can read the signed 33 page document here http://www.gwinnettcbservices.org/Documents/Solid_Waste_Ordinance_2008_2008112050.pdf ).
The amendment, among other things, removes the 400k county resident's ability to choose a garbage disposal service: they must now pay for service from the county selected provider. It also increases a county resident's ad valorem tax after July 1, 2009. Lastly, it has a series of prohibited activities for which a violator can be charged up to $500.
I sent all of the commission members an email requesting a comment, which I promised to post unedited if they'd send it to me before 8:30 PM ET last night (12 Dec 08). I received not one comment. Additionally, I have a friend in Gwinnett who informed me there was a GOP party a few days ago at which several of the commission members would be in attendance. Several were asked about the issue and all refused to discuss it.
Update: Since I drafted this diary the Atalnta Journal/Constitution has published the following article detailing a court battle Gwinnett is now in over this very topic: http://www.ajc.com/services/content/metro/gwinnett/stories/2008/12/10/gwinnett_recycling_plan.html?cxtype=rss&cxsvc=7&cxcat=13
Opponents have been mentioning recycling as the reason residents can be fined, but according to the wording of the amendment it is for any violation of the prohibited activities section.
Here are some high points before we get into the particulars of the violations.
Section V A vii - Increases county resident’s taxes
Section V D i 2 - Yard waste removal costs the resident more
Section XVIII A - Enforcement by any inspector employed by Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful and deputized by the Sheriff
Section XIX A - Makes any violation, not just recyclables punishable by no more than $500
Section VII A contains the prohibited acts a residential owner can be fined for and is summed up violating anything in section V.A. Keep in mind Section XIX.A. States, “...any person who willfully violates this ordinance may be punished by a civil monetary penalty not to exceed $500.00 per violation. Keep in mind that last part as you read through the summaries below of Section V. Also, the final part of Section XIX A. reads, “Each full day a violation continues may constitute a separate violation”.
Section V (I have paraphrased much of this for brevity)
V.A.ii. -You can only contract for garbage service with the county approved provider prior to July 1, 2009 but you may remove it by other means other than having trash service.
V.A.iii. -you Must use the county provided service after July 1, 2009. All residents will also, ‘Source separate residential recovered materials i.e. recyclables
V.A.v. -All residents will prevent the accumulation of trash on their property or public thoroughfares bordering same
V.A.vi.1.-Before July 1, 2009 all residents shall
- put trash where they say
- Put all recycleables in the service providers recyclable cart and put that where the trash collector says
- Recyclable materials are as follows
- Newspaper and inserts
- Aluminum cans
- Tin/steel cans
- glass bottles and jars
- plastic soda and water bottles (#1)
- plastic milk jugs (#2)
- plastic detergent jugs (#2)
- Place all white goods where they tell you to
- Place all yard trimmings in paper bags to be collected within 3 days of an owners request to collect them.
- You must place the trash can where they tell you no earlier than 7 PM the day before scheduled collection
- Each owner must remove the can from the designated area within 24 hours of collection
- 2.After July 1, 2009
b. I. -The list of source separated materials will be provided to residents by The Administrator and is subject to change at any time without notice at the discretion of The Administrator
With these violations in mind lets explore what might be...
If you put your trash out, then go out of town and the can isn't removed for three days, those last two days are a violation of section V.A.vi.f., which would be considered two separate violations costing a resident up to $1000.
If several types of recyclable materials, such as two or three water bottles, a six pack of your favorite beer cans(lets face it, there'll be drinking—heavy drinking—during an Obama administration) and a milk jug, you've just racked up $5000.00 of county funding from your ten violations. Oh, and these violations will come when exactly? Will there be a deputy riding 'shotgun' on the garbage truck supervising each trash can as it's emptied into the back of the trash truck who can then write the ticket on the spot (thus delaying the speedy completion of the sanitation engineers' rounds, which is a violation of the sanitation engineer's Hippocratic oath to let no prohibited residential recoverable materials enter into the waste stream despite sleet, snow, hail, or global warming copyright infringement)? Perhaps they cannot afford all those extra deputized trash sheriffs and will just wait until the truck reaches the dumping facility. Then they'll use a Berkley researched formula for determining the address along a route by the position of the offending garbage within the truck. This of course will only come after a quarter million dollar research grant is completed two years from now. Or, maybe a dart will be thrown at a map and the house stuck will receive the violation. After all, how are you going to prove the bottle(s) they produce as 'evidence' didn't come from your home?
Yes, most of that is tongue in cheek, most. The violations can easily add up in a hurry. The consumer has no where to turn since government has stepped in and will determine what is best for it's people. Those who live in Gwinnett county cannot make this choice for themselves it seems. The commission board has determined since 20,000 homes have no trash service they are going to impose their chosen solution on the other 380,000 residents of that region. Apparently, they forgot those other 380,000 residents live there and VOTE. Oh, did I forget to mention if you're unhappy with this choice the email addresses and phone numbers of all the commission members is at the end of this diary.
Local politics is where you individually have a greater impact than in any other realm of politics. Don't just get angry, you can actually get even here. Find out when each member is coming up for reelection. Contact them using the email addresses and phone numbers in this post. If they won't listen, refuse to hear your voice, or just plain ignore you then remove them from office in favor of some other guy who suffered through this with you. Perhaps the next person will be more respectful of his neighbors.
Oh, if you'd like to discuss it with the commission in person, they have a public hearing on December 16, 2009 at 7 PM. The address is also at the bottom of this post.
The Commission is chaired by Charles E. Bannister, chairman ([email protected] 770.822.7010)