Polk considering its own sanitation system

Posted 3/22/19

The Polk County Commission is wrestling with a number issues, including the possibility of launching the county's own sanitation system.They are also took on the lack of a rental agreement for the …

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Polk considering its own sanitation system


The Polk County Commission is wrestling with a number issues, including the possibility of launching the county's own sanitation system.

They are also took on the lack of a rental agreement for the use of outbuildings and office space by approximately a half-dozen physicians and other healthcare professionals at the old Copper Basin Medical Center; discussed a series of road and highways needs, addressed by Road Department Supervisor Roy Gene Thomason Jr.; and approved a new Ambulance Service contract.

Commission members  even took a slap at the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency at Thursday night's meeting at the Polk County Courthouse in Benton.

Polk County Executive Robby Hatcher has been working with the sanitation situation, obtaining new contract bids from Santek and Advanced Disposal. He also received a bid proposal from Priority Waste.

Santek currently handles waste pick-up on the west side of the county, in the Benton area, while Advanced Disposal has the contract for the east side, in the Ducktown, Copperhill communities.

The county had received an extension of the current contracts, but only until May.

The contract renewal offers were eye-opening for Hatcher and other members.

Santek's current contract is $379,200 per year. The new contract would cost the county $442,824.36, a 17 percent increase.

Advanced Disposal's renewal offer would increase costs even more, percentage-wise. Its current contract is $191,436 per year, while the renewal offer would be $294,000 per year, a 53 percent jump.

Following some deliberation, the commissioners unanimously rejected all contract bids, and authorized Hatcher to renew RFPs for a rebid. 

Hatcher was also authorized to look into the possibility of purchasing equipment for the county to begin its own garbage, waste and debris pick-up. His findings will be brought back to the full commission for consideration.

The sanitation situation was not the only issued discussed Thursday.

• Polk County attorney Eric Brooks has drawn up a tentative contract for rental of the old healthcare offices at the now-closed Copper Basin Medical Center.

The proposal was for a fee of $24,000 per year, or $2,000 per month for the outlying buildings.

Proceeds from the rent would be divided by the county (three fourths), and Ducktown (one-fourth), who have ownership in the property.

The county has $600,000 invested in the property, and Ducktown $200,000.

Following some discussion, the commissioners lowered the monthly rental to $1,400, prior to approval.

The Ducktown City Council must now approve the tentative lease agreement, before it is offered to the healthcare professionals and current tenants of the office space.

Commission members and other county officials expressed doubt the offer will be accepted by Ducktown city officials or the healthcare tenants, even with the lowered monthly rental fee.

Additional discussion is anticipated at April's commission meeting.

• Thomason had a number of tentative projects to discuss with commissioners, but most were tabled.

"There is a list of things I need," Thomason emphasized at the start.

The commission did approved a match of $225,000 to go along with a state grant for improvement work on Ladd Springs Road.

Thomason was also requesting a match of $67,000 for work on Sugar Loaf Road, to some  vacation (summer) cabins in that area around Parksville Lake, but the request was strongly opposed, especially by Commission Chairman Greg Brooks.

"I don't oppose the money, but there are a number of roads I'd rather see it used, than on Sugar Loaf," said Brooks.

Thomason said he needed $1.8 million for assistance in paving some gravel roads, but added that his department could get by with $370,000.  Action was delayed until budget time.

In final requests from the Road Department, Thomason was given a release to purchase tractors and trucks for his department, and permission to move a department storage site to Campbell Road.

•  Jamie Nicholson of AMR was at the meeting to respond to inquiries concerning the new Ambulance Service Contract.

The discussion included the zero-level designation in service to the McMinn County line, and having an ambulance located at the Copper Basin Medical Center facility, at the top of the mountain. It was described as a "win-win" situation.

The contract was approved with the same money, but will include CPR training for Polk County educators, as well as fire and rescue, and Sheriff's Department personnel.

• A resolution proposed by Greg Brooks concerning TWRA activities and policies was approved by his fellow commissioners.

County officials are opposing any fee or registration increases, "which are not absolutely necessary." This includes a proposed registration increase for private boats.

Commissioners are also asking that TWRA board members with personal experience in hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities be selected. They said this would better represent outdoor enthusiasts.

• Notaries approved include Ginger Cole of Ducktown, and Lindsey Brackett of Copperhill.

• The county attorney was authorized to pursue and finalize a lease on the municipal airport at the top of the mountain.


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Steven D. Wilson

The county should take on the sanitation for all authorized and legitimate residents. This way, you have employees who are dependable, service trucks that are reliable, so your own self maintenance on the equipment, and the service can then be expanded and required by all residents. I have seen too many contractors quit mid-term. To pave the Sugar Loaf road, charge a very small bed tax for those motels to pay for the road maintenance. If you have good roads, they will come and pay taxes into the coiffures.

Saturday, March 23


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