Over the next week, the Pike County Solid Waste Department expects to begin sending out the 2017 bills for Pike County Solid Waste’s residential collection.

However, when residents get this year’s bills, they will notice a $2 increase in that monthly rate, which rose from $15.50 per month to $17.50 per month.

Pike County Solid Waste Commissioner Bobby Mullins said this week that, while he understands residents won’t like to pay the rate, it’s necessary to keep the department operational.

“Solid Waste is an essential program in Pike County and we have to keep it operating,” Mullins said. “We know that people don’t want to pay any more and they’re already stressed out over all the bills going up, like electric ... We have to keep this program going and if the citizens of Pike County wants this program, they’re going to have to pay for it. There’s no coal severance money or anything to cover the gaps anymore.”

Mullins said that, in August, he presented the proposed change to the Pike County Fiscal Court, a change he said he is authorized to make as the Solid Waste commissioner.

“That decision has to be made on or before Aug. 15 of each year,” he said. “I read that to the court in August, and, if the court does not take a vote on it or object to it in 15 days, then it goes into effect. When I made the recommendations and they never objected to it ... we put it into effect.”

The needs of the Solid Waste Department, Mullins said, are great.

Mullins said the Solid Waste department is facing several financial drains, including the need to fix the compactor at the county’s landfill. Last year, he said, it cost the county $110,000 to repair the compactor, more than the cost of leasing a new one, which is expected to cost a total of $600,000.

“This increase is expected to bring in another $500,000 throughout the year and it goes to the operating cost of Solid Waste,” he said. “We always have an operating deficit in Solid Waste. We’re just trying to get to where we can balance the budget.

“This rate increase just goes to cover the cost of operation,” he said. 

The monthly rate for customers in Pike County is higher than that paid by customers in the City of Pikeville, where residential customers pay $10 monthly, and the City of Coal Run, where residential customers pay $13.50 monthly.

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