Commission working on exemption list

Published 4:04 am Saturday, March 7, 2015

With less than 30 days until Arrow Disposal begins curbside garbage collection in Pike County, commissioners are working to whittle down the list of residents exempt from paying fees.

County Administrator Harry Sanders said county commissioners were putting the final touches on the contract with Arrow Disposal, which is set to begin solid waste collection on April 1. The current contract with Advanced Disposal expires March 31.

“From the exemption standpoint, the code of Alabama requires that people whose only income is Social Security be exempt from paying solid waste fees,” Sanders said. “Now, the discussion is how big is the list and how many people will be on it and who are those people. It’s a pretty difficult thing to get around because there is a lot of information needed in order to figure this out.”

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Arrow Chief Executive Officer Richard Urrutia said his company had been concerned about the amount of Social Security exemptions on the list of county residents to be served.

Arrow is asking the county to shrink its list of exempt residents to fewer than 425. Sanders said if the commission is unable to cut the list down, the county would have to pay a subsidy to Arrow Disposal to offset the loss of fees.

“We take the list we are provided from Advanced Disposal, and we will cut it down,” Sanders said. “The list provided to us says there are 400 plus people on the list, and now we are diligently determining if those people are deceased on the list. We are trying to look through public records and tearing that list down to what should be reasonable.”

Sanders said the list the commission is working from is currently less than the proposed 425 exempt customers and commissioners were not expecting it to grow passed that point.

“The list the commissioners have now is fewer than 425, and the list is likely to be shortened,” Sanders said. “We are still reviewing and updating all of that information. I believe one of the things they will ask the commission for in the final is that we review the exemption list on an annual basis.”

Although the county signs the contract with the solid waste collection agency, it typically pays no fees for the service. The fees are paid by the residents served by the agency unless the additional subsidy kicks in.

“The citizens pay the company directly, kind of like the ambulance services,” Sander said. “Other than putting out the proposal and taking the lowest bids, the county wasn’t involved in any other way.”

Sanders said the commission had taken the responsibility for figuring out who qualifies for Social Security exemptions and would be using a form to outline the procedures.

“There is an actual affidavit that they have to sign to determine that it is true,” Sanders said. “Once the information is collected and verified as far as we can, those people will hopefully be approved and we will give the list to the solid waste contractor, or Arrow.”

Sanders said the commission and Arrow were both hoping for a smooth transition.

“They will begin picking up solid waste up April 1,” Sanders said. “There will be a transition period in there. We are hoping it will be a smooth transition, but we understand that that there are possibilities for mistakes and things do happen. We are all committed to try and work through those problems.