Thursday, February 01, 2001

Patton pitches trash bill

Governor makes case in Covington

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Gov. Paul Patton used an illegal dump in west Covington on Wednesday to illustrate what he says is a need for mandatory curbside pickup of trash.

        Mr. Patton is proposing a universal solid-waste collection bill that would require all counties to submit a plan to the state's Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet by next January showing how they would provide every household or business curbside waste collection by 2003.

[photo] Gov. Paul Patton points as he surveys an illegal dump in west Covington on Wednesday.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        “This is a perfect example of how neighbors impact other neighbors' quality of life,” the governor said as he stood above a ravine behind St. John's Congregational Church just off Highway Avenue. The ravine was littered with old lawn chairs, shingles and other construction debris, paint cans and even an entire doghouse.

        Mr. Patton's plan would give counties the discretion to set up their own collection service as well as the mechanism for collecting the fees from residents.

        The bill won't change much in Northern Kentucky's most populous counties — Boone, Kenton and Campbell — because the area is mostly urban and suburban, with nearly complete curbside waste and recycling collection, Mr. Patton said. “Urban dwellers are accustomed to this,” he said.

        The thrust of the mandatory curbside collection program would be in mostly rural counties that don't have the service.

        More than 300,000 Kentucky households have no waste collection, and there are more than 3,000 illegal dump sites in the state, said James Bickford, a retired brigadier general who is secretary of the state's Natural Resources Cabinet.

        Without trash pickup, residents have no legal way of disposing of their waste, he said.

        “If people have to pay for the collection service, they will use it,” Mr. Patton said later in an interview.

        Details of the governor's $30 million cleanup program, which includes the solid-waste collection bill, were disclosed to members of the General Assembly this week. Predictably, there were objections.

        Rep. Jim Gooch, D-Providence, said he has long opposed federal government mandates on states, and that this administration proposal would be a mandate from the state.

        “It would be very difficult for me to pass that on to the counties,” Mr. Gooch said.

        Rep. Mark Treesh, R- Owensboro, said if the problem is that lack of universal garbage collection leads to illegal dumping, then there are already laws against that, and it “points more to an enforcement problem.”

        And Sen. Elizabeth Tori, R-Radcliff, asked who would pay counties or contractors to haul trash for people who don't pay their bills.

        Counties could collect delinquent payments on people's tax bills and could assess a 20 percent penalty, the governor said. It would be up to each county to decide how to collect the fees and any delinquencies, however.

        If counties choose not to offer curbside pickup, they could lose up to 10 percent of state money for road cleanup, and they would not be eligible for state grants to clean up dumps.

        Mr. Patton said he will push for approval of the mandatory curbside bill during the shortened General Assembly session, which reopens Tuesday, because the bill does not require any state funding.

        Because revenue matters will not be discussed during this year's session, Mr. Patton said he will push for the monetary parts of the proposal next year.

        Among the $30 million in costs: $2.9 million for state cleanup of illegal open dumps and $3 million for county cleanup of illegal dumps; $11 million for recycling and waste reduction; and $4 million for litter pickup on roads. The governor also wants to launch a $3 million public education campaign.


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