Hope takes aim at trash

HOPE — A month’s worth of uncertainty has been removed in Hope’s efforts to remove trash from residents’ properties. Mandatory trash pickup for all Hope residents will begin after all.

The town of Hope last week signed a three-year-contract with CGS Services of Morristown to provide the service starting in December.

In September, the future of mandatory trash service was uncertain after Hope Town Council members voted 4-1 to rescind their August approval of the contract.

Citing Robert’s Rules of Order, councilman Ed Johnson insisted in September that all council members who voted in favor of the contract in August were allowed to rescind their vote, giving council members time to study a possible contract ramification, he said.

Johnson didn’t elaborate at the time, saying he wanted to avoid starting rumors. But the reason came out during Tuesday’s council meeting, when a letter written by Bartholomew County Commissioner Larry Kleinhenz was read into the record by Town Council President Clyde Compton.

In the letter, the commissioner stated Johnson’s concern was the result of statements made during a meeting of the Bartholomew County Solid Waste Management District.

The concern centered on “revenue that will be lost over the trash that will be taken into another landfill outside of the county,” Kleinhenz stated in the letter. “We will lose (up to) $60,000 in revenue.”

But Kleinhenz also told town council members to “not worry about us. We will work it out.”

The out-of-county landfill that will be used for Hope’s trash, located northeast of Shelbyville near Morristown, is owned and operated by the same company providing the Hope trash service.

The lost revenue refers to annual gate fees that CGS would have paid to the county to dump loads in the Bartholomew County landfill, Compton and CGS representative Chris Ross said.

It was the ability to avoid pay those fees that enabled CGS to make a substantially lower bid than their competitors, Ross said.

Johnson was correct that Indiana lawmakers allow Robert’s Rules of Order to apply to council situations where other state laws do not apply, Compton said.

Under those rules, council members who vote in favor of a resolution or ordinance can later vote to rescind their vote as Johnson said, town attorney Cindy Boll said.

But when a vote on a contract takes place and the other party has already seen the information, that action cannot be rescinded, Boll said.

“That means the motion to rescind was not appropriate or valid,” Boll told the council. “It’s like we just go back to where we were last month.”

The mandatory trash pickup was originally scheduled to begin Nov. 3, but the council president postponed it until December in order to give residents time to take care of unresolved issues with other trash service providers, Compton said.

Under the three-year-contract, 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 will add $1 each month to cover administrative costs.

Budget passed

With no objections voiced from the public, the Hope Town Council has given unanimous final approval to a $1,240,390 budget for 2018.

The total amount is $20,000 more than the 2017 spending plan approved by the council last fall, Hope Clerk-Treasurer Diane Burton said.

The council also unanimously approved a 2018 salary ordinance that will provide a 2 percent pay raises for municipal employees.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.