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By MARTY FINLEY firstname.lastname@example.org
ELIZABETHTOWN – Hardin County landlords returned to Fiscal Court this week to argue their case against an ordinance that places mandatory trash collection fees on the shoulders of property owners. The group was focused squarely on waste hauler’s claims that reduced rates would emerge from the bids if the property owners carried the responsibility for the bills.
And Commissioner Bill Brandenburg presented a motion to the Court for County Attorney Steve Bland to establish procedures for the Court to reverse their decision legally, but the motion failed with no Commissioner offering a second.
The landlords, led by Viviana Delgado and Jill Wade, said the estimated two dollars in reduced rates had not been proven, and could not be proven since the Court did not receive a bid from the haulers for each ordinance to conduct a comparison.
The landlords also argued that the Court did not give the county proper opportunity to speak out on the matter before they voted.
But Judge-Executive Harry Berry said the Court followed procedures established by law to allow the people ample time to discuss the matter by publicizing the issue in the media and holding a public hearing before the first reading of the ordinance in August.
Jill Wade countered that the public hearing would have been useless, though, because the were advertised in June and the public hearing occurred in August.
“There’s no cost savings, and there wasn’t adequate time,” Wade said.
Brandenburg agreed, and said he felt the Court had erred in judgment in the ordinance.
“I think we’ve made a mistake,” he said.
Brandenburg said it targets a certain business sector for reduced rates, even though there isn’t documented proof that there are savings, adding that he felt the Court had been misinformed during the process.
“These numbers don’t appear to be accurate,” he said.
He also agreed with the landlords that substantial time had not been given for the landlords to argue their case before advertising bids.
“I think we erred in not getting you involved,” Brandenburg told the group.
Once the motion failed, Brandenburg addressed the Court again and told them he did not feel the Court was doing anything in defiance of the law, but that it should be mindful of public perception and open to discussion.
Berry said he felt everyone on the Court pursued openness in decision making, adding that Brandenburg could have employed committee meetings to discuss the matter further and bring it to the Court.
However, Brandenburg said he felt that committee meetings should be used for information gathering and research rather than debate or consensus building, adding that he wanted to avoid a “loophole” means of conducting County business.
But Berry countered that committee meetings were not loopholes, but a state-approved avenue of discussing issues before bringing them to Fiscal Court. No binding decisions can be made in committee meetings, he said, so any topic discussed in the meetings must be resolved in Fiscal Court and can receive equal discussion therein.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762.