Hope officials will move forward on a trash collection plan for the community, seeking bids from companies interested in providing the service to the community.
The Town Council voted 5-0 to request bids and then to take 90 days to consider those bids.
That decision came after a sometimes angry discussion over whether such a service is needed or wanted by residents.
Many of those who turned out Tuesday night for the Town Council meeting were upset that the town would consider a town-wide trash service, forcing everyone in the community to pay a set fee through their utility bills to a single contractor hired by the city. The most frequent complaints were over the cost, especially from those who are not paying for any trash service now.
Council President Clyde Compton said that the council never intended to vote to approve a trash company Tuesday night, but only to agree to seek bids. Without that information, there is no way to know what the actual costs might be.
At a special council meeting two weeks ago, the town officials presented a range of figures from three trash companies who said they could do the work for $11 to $16, depending on the options chosen by the town. That would be a savings for those who pay for a service now, they estimated.
But several residents said they were skeptical the work could be done and billed through the town at a savings. Instead, they speculatd that the town's costs would make the service even more expensive.
Hope resident Diane Croddy said that the town should concentrate on cracking down on the people who are not cleaning up their properties, rather than forcing everyone into a contract.
Linda Bair asked if there would be provisions to ensure that no one in town government had a financial interest in the companies providing the service and said that from her research many communities paid less than the numbers the town officials were estimating.
Ed Stone said that he takes his trash to the landfill for free now and did not want to pay for a service, while Randy Sims and several others said that they thought the town should give its newly adopted trash ordinance a chance to have an impact before approving a town-wide trash service.
Paula Winkler stressed that Hope is different than other communities and what works elsewhere might not be appropriate for here.
However, JoEllen Seright said she thought it was a good idea to start a trash service, saying it is time to clean up the town and get the rodents and wild animals out of the community.
Town Manager J.T. Doane said he and Council President Clyde Compton had investigated many of the questions that came up during a special work session on the issue earlier this month. They asked questions of the three companies interested in bidding, Rumpke, CGS and Bestway.
Companies would require a three to five year contract with the town.
All three offered large item collection and recycling.
All three did not mind yard waste as long as it fits in the trash tote, but did not want to collect larger yard waste.
All would require standardized totes across the community, which would be issued as part of the service.
All would provide help to the elderly and those with handicaps who could have trouble getting their trash to the curb.
Most of the companies would insist on having the trash bins moved to the street for collection. They said they did not want to have the trucks navigating alleys to pick up trash.
In other business before the Town Council:
The new ordinance regulating garbage on properties has gone into effect. Doane said that residents with unsightly debris will receive a written notice and if it is not cleaned up they can be charged $25 a day. Doane also displayed the new red cards that will serve as notices. None of the notices have been issued yet, he said.
The Hope Volunteer Fire Department will receive its new fire truck in July. The fire department announced last fall that it had received approval for a grant to purchase a new fire truck. The $492,000 grant would allow the department to replace a truck that is more than 20 years old.
Doane and David Clouse said that the town had done a survey of streetlights that were not working and found 13 broken lights. Duke Energy has since repaired all but one in front of the Yellow Trail Museum. Clouse said that one had been hit by a vehicle and required a whole new pole. Councilman Ed Johnson said that a new pole Duke had ordered had been deemed too tall for the town and was being replaced with one that would match others in town.
The town expects to receive bids today for work to repaint the town's water tower. The council will likely schedule a special work session on April 4th to consider the bids and approve a contract at its regular April meeting. The work could start as early as May 15th, although the town is also considering a fall painting schedule. The project will be paid for out of funds leftover from the water system improvement project.
Strand Associates reported that the town's water system improvement project was about 99 percent complete and all funds had been disbursed.
Town Council gave its first approval to new fees for animal control work. The town pays the Bartholomew County Humane Society $48 for each pet surrendered to the shelter. The new fees would charge $60 for anyone who voluntarily surrenders a pet to animal control to cover that cost. Councilwoman Nellie Meek suggested that the ordinance clarify what exactly is meant by "surrender" and when that fee would apply. The town attorney said that could be added before the second and final reading of the ordinance. The town would also charge a fee of $30 to trap and remove a wild animal from the property.
The new pharmacy was scheduled to open for business on Wednesday. A grand opening has been set for April 3rd.