HOPE — Plans to begin mandatory trash service in Hope in November have been put on hold.
Citing a parliamentary manual, councilman Ed Johnson rescinded his Aug. 15 approval of a three-year-contract with CGS Services of Morristown to provide the service.
While all council members except Nellie Meek voted in favor of the contract, Jerry Bragg and Ohmer Miller joined Johnson and Meek on Tuesday in asking that last month’s vote be rescinded.
Meek said her top concern is that many Hope residents cannot afford mandatory trash pickup. Tuesday’s vote to rescind came immediately after the council learned Hope residents are likely to face a 37.4 percent hike in their water bill over the next 16 months.
Under the three-year-contract approved in August, the monthly cost of trash service for each resident will be $7.55 for the first year.
During the second year, the price goes up to $7.78 a month, and caps off at $8.01 for the third and final year. The town also plans to add $1 each month to cover administrative costs.
But the only explanation for rescinding the vote offered Tuesday was that questions remain whether state law will allow the town to put charges for trash pickup on the same bills issued for water and sewage service.
After Hope Town Manager J.T. Doane said Tuesday that public questions have emerged based on misleading and inaccurate information, Meek stated her belief that mandatory trash pickup has to be separately billed.
In response, council president Clyde Compton said that issue was settled during a line-by-line legal review, as well as by a representative of the Indiana State Board of Accounts.
“It was stated the town absolutely has legal rights to bill (trash service) on a utility bill,” Compton said.
“I have it in black and white that it’s not,” said Meek, who got her information from a different representative of the State Board of Accounts.
Johnson then cited Robert’s Rules of Order, which he said allows a council member who had earlier cast a prior positive vote to make a motion to rescind it.
“There has been a shortage of discussion,” Johnson said. “I’m not comfortable with what I’ve been told, nor the ramifications. I want to check it out before we go further.”
After town attorney Cynthia Boll said Johnson was entitled to make his motion to rescind, Compton allowed the council to vote 4-1 to take back its earlier approval.
Johnson said he would report his findings to the council after he has had time to adequately research his concerns.