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Board explains recent increase in garbage bill

In an effort to answer questions and provide accurate information about the recent announcement that the Bell County residents will incur a garbage service rate increase effective Jan. 1, 2020, we offer the following information.

Hopefully, this will help to dispel concerns and rumors that the residents may have. First of all, by statute, garbage service is mandatory for all residents. The Bell County 109 Board is charged with the collection and disposal of all residential and commercial waste in Bell County.

The 109 Board is made up of a group of volunteers appointed by the fiscal court who work diligently to oversee the 109 Board operations. This is a non-paid position. These members donate their time and energy for the improvement and well-being of the county.

To address the current increase of $2.50 per month, note that there has not been an increase for the past seven years. During this time, the tipping fees at the landfill have increased annually along with the cost of doing business (equipment cost, labor, fuel, insurance, etc.). For the last seven years, those cost have not been passed along to the customer.

So that you might understand the volume of garbage that is generated in Bell County, we have disposed of 18,796 tons in the first 11 months of 2019 at a cost of $701,666.24 — averaging to $37.13 per ton. This is just the cost of disposal and does not include the operation of the 109 facility, which in addition to handling all of the garbage sent to the landfill but also pay for building, equipment in addition to operating the recycle center in an attempt to remove as much as we can in recyclable from going to the landfill.

We would like you also to know we operate with a minimum work force, usually no more than five employees. Also, as a free service to all customers, we do what we call whitegoods service where we come to you property and pick up couches, refrigerators, etc.

Just in comparison, our neighboring county rates are $17 in Knox County and $19 in Harlan County. Both Laurel and Whitley County are $19.95. Therefore, we feel that our residents are still receiving good service at a reasonable price.

We would ask everyone to help us to continue to improve and clean up Bell County. We live in a beautiful scenic area that has tremendous potential. Like many eastern Kentucky counties, we are in desperate need of jobs in order to attract companies that could provide employment. It’s everyone’s responsibility to help to maintain an environment that is not only scenic but would be more conducive as a future home for companies seeking a place to develop and grow.

Any questions you have, please direct them to the 109 Office at 606-337-7035.