Trash removal to cost less in Palmyra
Many residents of Palmyra will soon save money on trash removal.
The Palmyra town board awarded a one-year exclusive contract for town-wide residential waste removal to Rumpke Waste Collection and Recycling of Louisville, during its meeting Thursday evening, but the details of the contract are yet to be finalized.
The cost of trash collection will be $9 per household per month. This includes disposal on one large item, such as a piece of broken furniture, each week.
Rumpke Regional Municipal Marketing Manager Michael Sweeten said his company gave the town a price of $7.90 per month per trash unit based on an estimate of 300 residential customers in Palmyra. Commercial customers are not included in this plan.
The other $1.10 is a handling charge to defray the town’s cost of billing. Trash collection charges will be included on residents’ monthly water and sewer bills.
“I think saving people money is a good thing to do,” said town board president Roy (Speedy) McClanahan. “Right now, I pay $58.52 every three months for trash collection, and with this new company, I’ll only pay $27. That saves me $31 every three months.”
The new trash collection program is designed to be mandatory for every household in Palmyra. Concerns were raised at the meeting that some residents might prefer to opt out of the service but still get billed.
Town attorney Gordon Ingle of Corydon advised the board that the trash collection program should apply to every household in town. Having a town-wide trash collection program and letting certain residents opt out would be self-defeating. He said, “It would be like fighting a war with a draft and then letting 90 percent of the draftees opt out of military service.”
Sweeten said the contract is a work-in-progress and the number of customers could be amended.
As a bonus for residents, the town board decided to purchase 300 95-gallon and 78 65-gallon wastewheelers, to loan to customers. This saves customers an additional $2 monthly fee which would have been charged by Rumpke for the use of the bins.
“We are going to spend about $20,000 of our riverboat money to buy these ‘trash totes’,” said McClanahan. “We want to save the residents of Palmyra as much money as possible.
“The town will own the totes, and even if Rumpke is not our trash company in the future, the totes will still work with trucks owned by other companies.”
Sweeten said Rumpke would be able to begin collection as soon as the contract is completed. McClanahan said an accurate count of customers would have to be made and the trash totes ordered and delivered before Rumpke could begin collection.
The board also approved the institution of a reserve police officer program for Palmyra.
Reserve police officers are to be appointed by the town council and given the same authority as any other law enforcement office upon completion of 40 hours of training.
Ingle said he contacted the Indiana State Police Academy to determine if a town council member could serve as a reserve officer and was told that it’s permissible as long as neither position is full-time.
Concerns were raised about town marshal Delana Smith’s work schedule. McClanahan said there had been occasions when Smith could not be reached, and he questioned whether she had been working the appropriate number of hours each week. He said he didn’t want any “ghost employment” in Palmyra.
Smith, who began part-time as marshal Jan. 1, is paid $1,000 a month and is expected to work 20 hours a week. “Our town marshal is the highest-paid marshal in the state,” McClanahan said.
Smith said she can’t be reached sometimes because she pays for her own cell phone, and she turns it off to save charges on incoming calls.
Also, she was on vacation for a week during July, and then she could not get access to the town’s patrol car for three weeks because it was locked in McClanahan’s garage and she had no way to get to it. “I was not given a garage door opener,” Smith said.
McClanahan said the car was in his garage for safe-keeping and would stay there because there is no other garage in town to park it.
Asked if Smith had been fired, McClanahan said, “Not yet. We’ve had a few problems and we’ll get them worked out.”
McClanahan said a regular work schedule will be put in place for the town marshal to follow. His proposal was for the marshal to work a five-hour shift on Monday, Tuesday, Friday or Sunday and Saturday evenings.
After the meeting, Smith went to McClanahan to object to the work schedule. She said when she was hired she was told she could set her own hours and was not given a work schedule. She said she would not work every night of the week.
McClanahan said, “If you don’t like the schedule, hit the door.”
When Smith again refused, McClanahan said, “You’re fired.”
Smith replied, “You can’t fire me. It takes a vote of the board to fire me. You’re stuck with me for at least another month.”
McClanahan ended up providing Smith with an opener for his garage so she could have access to the patrol car.
In other matters, the board approved an ordinance creating the position of a town building inspector who will be given the authority to determine whether or not buildings within the town are safe for habitation.
McClanahan said Palmyra needs a building inspector because the county building inspector will not come out to Palmyra to condemn a building.
A weed and rank vegetation ordinance was also approved, updating an older ordinance by giving the building inspector the authorization to order the removal of weeds on real estate in the town. If weeds are not removed within an allotted time span, the building inspector can take action to have the weeds removed at the owner’s expense.
The board also adopted an unsafe building code ordinance based on an ordinance in force in Crandall. This ordinance specifies the items for which a building inspector can declare a residence to be unsafe. It includes exits of insufficient size, earthquake damage, and building decay.
Addressing the increase in town water and sewer rates, McClanahan said the state raised the rates, not the town board.
“The water and sewer rates were set in Indianapolis and Columbus, and we had no choice but to raise them,” McClanahan said.
“The water rate will go up 28 percent. The cost of 2,000 gallons will go from $13.98 to $16.28, and the sewer rate will go up 90 cents per 1,000 gallons,” McClanahan said.