INEZ, Ky. (WYMT) - Update, 6/26/14
The Martin County fiscal court Thursday night approved a balanced budget for the next fiscal year.
Magistrates originally voted against the budget but returned after an executive session and voted three-to-two in favor of the spending plan proposed by Judge/Executive Kelly Callaham.
The budget has drawn criticism because it only funds garbage pickup for the next six months and citizens have enjoyed that free service for many years.
The fiscal court still has six months to figure out a way to continue paying for trash pickup before that cost will be passed on to citizens.
Since the budget passed, a possible government shutdown next week has been avoided, Callaham said.
Original story, 6/20/14
Dumping a free county-wide service? That is the idea in Martin County.
A budget deficit has county leaders looking for ways to trim the fat. On the chopping block, free garbage pickup.
For decades folks in Martin County have been using garbage transfer stations provided by the county.
Judge Executive Kelly Callaham says, "We have three of them throughout the county and people bring their garbage and dump in our containers and we take it to a landfill."
Free to the garbage dumper but costing the county more than half a million dollars each year
Callaham says, "For the last 21 years we've paid for that through our coal severance monies."
However, this year that budget is off by about $800,000.
Callaham says, "I could put everyone that works in the county on minimum wage and it would not make a dent in the money we need to come up with."
Callaham says because of their current budget situation cuts must be made somewhere and he believes the garbage drop off service is the most reasonable area.
Without any changes to the service he says they'll be force to cut non-mandated programs like senior citizen centers, community centers, and more.
"Would have to close all parks, all fire departments pretty much would have to close and it would just be a disaster for our county and I will not present to my court a budget that does that," Callaham explains.
Some want to keep the free drop off, others do not.
Gary Ball says, "People should pay to have their garbage hauled off and disposed of...it is not a big deal."
Steven McCoy says he does not want to completely throw away the service.
"They should give a sticker...charge 15 or 25 dollars a year for that sticker that would be okay. It would generate revenue and cut down on out of state dumping," says McCoy.
Officials are discussing whether to franchise out and have mandatory pick up or find a way to pay for the drop off service.
This issue will be discussed at the next fiscal court meeting which is at 5 p.m. on Thursday.