County might ask ex-bidders to cooperate with garbage fee removal
November 14, 2017
By Bill Wilson
The Anniston Star

Cleburne County Commission Chairman Ryan Robertson tried again to have the $3 per quarter additional fee taken off customers’ garbage bills during the commission meeting Monday night. Robertson offered two different resolutions to remove the garbage fee but they were both tabled by the commission.

Robertson said later the commission did not want to hear about his resolutions.

The first resolution simply took the fee off, while the second resolution would take the fee off in exchange for the vendor to provide free garbage pickup to the 11 volunteer fire departments in the county.

Commissioner Laura Cobb at a work session last week said she would want the money collected from the $1 a month fee to fund trash convenience centers for county residents.

But Monday night the trash talk was not over as the commission discussed another way to abolish the fee without having the county harmed by any lawsuits from the unsuccessful bidders. Advanced Disposal is the contractor that won the bid.

Robertson said the commission is going to ask the county administrator, Steve Swafford, to work with the county attorney, Jason Odom, to see about sending letters to all the unsuccessful bidders who bid on the garbage contract to waive their right to sue the county if the fee was abolished.

“So there’s hope, there is hope,” Robertson said.

County Commissioner Jake Durham reported that a few residents in his district have not gotten their trash cans yet and the residents’ trash is piling up. The cans were supposed to be delivered by Nov. 1.

“There’s always that disconnect, at some point, especially in larger organizations between the organization itself and the customer. So it takes us as elected officials, we should be on the phone with Advanced raising a little hell and say ‘Hey what is going on?’” Durham said.

Durham said Advanced is doing a phenomenal job getting the trash cans delivered compared to the last time they had the contract.

“We’re getting there, we still have to do a little bit more,” Durham said.

County engineer Lee Estes said the call volume for customers not getting their cans has been on the decrease.

In other business, Commissioner Emmett Owen proposed a resolution which would mandate that the county administrator clock in and out each day, allowing for a one-hour lunch break, and work 40 hours each week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. After some pointed words between the commission and Swafford, the resolution was rescinded and the matter will be taken up at the December commission meeting.

Attorney Odom said that Swafford’s contract is already based on a 40-hour work week.

Swafford said that his position is a salaried one, meaning he doesn’t get paid time and a half overtime; he said he would challenge that exemption, a challenge which might be retroactive and thereby qualify him to receive back pay.

Odom said that the resolution would not be retroactive but Swafford could potentially receive time and half if he worked more than 40 hours in a week.

Swafford was not pleased with the resolution and said it could be considered retaliatory.

“I do not work a cash register, I do not work a sewing machine. My job does not involve me sitting on a cushion — it never has in the 25 years I’ve served this county. The business of the people does not take place on the seat of a chair — the business of the people takes place out meeting with the people,” Swafford said.

The commission also unanimously voted to approve a resolution which tasks the county finance officer with developing, posting and compiling all agendas for the commission meetings.