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Erwin BMA holds first reading vote on ending commercial trash pick-up service

By Richard Rourk

Trash pick-up provided a hot topic of discussion for the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting on Monday, Aug. 9. 

The BMA moved forward unanimously, voting to pass on first reading an ordinance that absolves the Town of Erwin from providing commercial trash pick-up services for Class I, Class II, Class III and Class IV businesses.

The BMA has been working on a solution for trash pick-up issues for several months. During an April 12th workshop, the BMA discussed the possibility of starting a town-run trash pickup service after learning that Waste Management, which currently performs garbage collection for Erwin, is raising its fees. 

Waste Management was estimated to charge up to $232,000 more annually than the previous year. The annual contract was set to roll over in July. The town currently has roughly $175,000 estimated for trash pick-up services.

During the June 14 BMA meeting, the board voted 4-1 to approve an agreement with Waste Management to serve as residential provider through December and as commercial provider through September.

The vote to no longer provide commercial trash pick-up services for Class I, Class II, Class III and Class IV businesses came following a public hearing on the matter. No citizens voiced a public response to the ordinance. 

A second and final reading of the ordinance is scheduled for the September BMA meeting. “We hope to meet with several businesses during a workshop before the final vote in September to come up with a solution,” said Town of Erwin City Recorder Travis Bishop.

The BMA continued to look to make improvements to several other city-owned resources, including Erwin Town Hall. The BMA voted unanimously to approve a bid of $53,500, by Phil’s Heating and Air, to replace the HVAC system at town hall. Bishop announced that the $53,500 bid had been the lowest received.

The BMA voted unanimously to approve a bid of $69,060, by Public Works Equipment to purchase a trailer-mounted vacuum leaf collector for the Public Works Department. Bids ranged from $69,060 to $110,000 for the project.

The Town of Erwin BMA also voted unanimously to approve the purchase of up to 500 tons of salt from Detroit Salt in accordance with the Tennessee State Contract. 

“This is for the treatment of roads during the winter weather season,” Bishop said. 

Next up, the BMA voted unanimously to approve the Unicoi County Public Library Board as per their by-laws and governing authority. 

“The Board of Trustees of the Unicoi Public Library passed an amendment in  2016 that gave the Town of Erwin the authority to confirm board members, explained Unicoi County Public Library board member Cathy Griffin. 

“We are practically starting from scratch,” Griffin added. “We do have six new members on our seven-member board.” 

The Unicoi County Public Library board of directors is made up of Travis Bishop, Jan Bowden, Laura Elliott, Andy Frazier, Valerie Hendrix, Gail Snodgrass and Griffin.

Alderman Gary Chandler said he’s impressed with the direction that the library is going.

“I’m hearing good things about the library,” Chandler said.

In a last matter of business,  the BMA voted unanimously to approve Resolution Number 1293-21, a Resolution of the Town of Erwin, to adopt a Public Involvement Plan and to adopt a Four-Factor Analysis for LEP (Limited English Proficient) persons. “This plan is required by state and federal law,” Bishop said.

The BMA is scheduled to meet again on Monday, Aug. 23, at 5:30 p.m. inside Erwin Town Hall, which is  located at 211 N. Main Ave. Meetings are open to the public.