By DOTTY NIST
As the result of recent county commission action, garbage collection for residents of condominium complexes will soon be funded in an equal manner as is the case for residents of single-family homes.
The decision took place at the Aug. 27 Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) regular meeting at the Walton County Courthouse.
Currently the county’s contract with garbage collection company Waste Management classifies condominium complexes as commercial rather than residential. As commercial, condominiums are billed for collection of their garbage, while the county pays for garbage collection for other residences. Walton County funds collection of garbage at single-family residences through a 1-percent small-county sales tax that was adopted in 1994.
Condominium complexes are required to put their garbage down a chute, after which it is compacted and deposited into a container for collection. Some large condominiums have several employees on staff for this process. Many of the more than 10,000 condominium complexes in Walton County are billed $30,000 or more a year for garbage collection.
In addition, condominium residents pay the 1-percent sales tax along with other residents.
Walton County Special Projects Coordinator Larry Jones (now county administrator) had recently been assigned to research and “get the numbers” for what would be required for condominium residents’ garbage pick-up to be funded along with that of other residents. In a report provided by Jones to the commissioners on Aug. 27, the estimate was that $1.5 to $1.6 million in additional funding would be needed.
On a motion by District 5 Commissioner Cindy Meadows, the BCC voted 4-1 to fund garbage collection for condominium residents at the full amount that Jones had calculated as being provided for other residents, $11.93 per month per unit.
An initial motion by District 3 Commissioner Bill Imfeld in favor of the lower rate of $6.86 per month per unit had not been seconded, and Imfeld voted no on the motion to set the $11.93-per-month-per-unit rate.
The new funding will require a change in the county’s contract with Waste Management and is planned to be implemented at the beginning of 2014. The funding source for the $1.5 to $1.6 million is to initially be the Landfill Reserves account, and in the future the cost will likely be budgeted from the 1-percent sales tax already used to pay for residential garbage collection.
Suzanne Harris, president of Edgewater Condominium, thanked the BCC for their decision and conveyed particular thanks to Jones, who, she noted, had come to Edgewater three times since the commissioners had tasked him with researching the condominium garbage situation. She expressed hope about what could be accomplished “if we can all work together.”
Harris had been critical of the arrangement with garbage collection for condominiums for a number of years and had at one time publicly stated her intention to file a lawsuit over the matter.
The Walton County Taxpayer Association, in association with other organizations, had targeted inequity associated with the arrangement this year, collecting more than 2,000 signatures urging the BCC to take action to remedy the matter.