Boykins passes new trash ordinance

Published 8:40 am Friday, October 16, 2009

BOYKINS—The Town Council passed a revised mandatory trash ordinance on Tuesday, but will decide additional details of the measure at its next meeting in November.

Meanwhile it appears that four people who were taken to court by the town for not paying their trash fees under the previous ordinance but were ultimately absolved by a judge of their responsibility to pay them on a technicality will not return to court for a second round against the town, unless they continue to defy the ordinance.

The new ordinance passed by a 3-2 vote, with Michael Gadsby and Vice Mayor Linda Beatty dissenting. Beatty had been one of the four people taken to court for refusing to pay the fees.

“I was disappointed that the ordinance passed,” Beatty said Thursday. “Petitions were circulated, and the majority of the people were opposed to mandatory trash pickup, but the vote was still for mandatory trash pickup. I was disappointed in that.”

Mayor Spier Edwards said Wednesday that the Town Council still needs to decide how long to wait before taking individuals or businesses to court for refusing to pay the fees under the new ordinance.

“Starting today everybody is required to pay,” Edwards said.

Southampton County General District Court Judge Warren Parker Councill ruled on June 23 that the town’s previous trash ordinance was not enforceable because the municipality did not hold a public hearing before making the fees mandatory in 2007. His ruling absolved Beatty, J.C. Owen, William Pennington and Charles Vaughan from paying the fees.

After its defeat in court, the town retained the services of municipal law firm Hefty & Wiley of Richmond and, with legal counsel, amended the trash ordinance. Attorneys with the Virginia Municipal League also advised Boykins.

The town has spent about $6,000 on legal fees over the dispute.

Edwards said the Town Council also needed to decide in November what to charge businesses for trash collection and whether the town should collect trash once or twice a week. The suggestion for picking up household waste once a week emerged during a Sept. 23 public hearing on mandatory trash collection.

The fee is currently $9 per month or $100 per year, and household waste is picked up twice a week on Mondays and Fridays. Yard waste is picked up on Tuesdays.

According to the new ordinance, any business or individual who becomes delinquent will be notified in writing by the town clerk or treasurer that they face termination of service.

After 30 days, if the fees are still not paid, a late charge of 10 percent will be imposed on any outstanding balance.

The new ordinance goes on to specify that the town clerk, treasurer and town attorney “shall take all legal measures necessary to recover any outstanding balances, late fees, plus reasonable costs, and interest, as provided under applicable Virginia law.”

Beatty declined to say whether she would pay the trash collection fee under the new ordinance.