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Arkansas side closes garbage fee loophole

Arkansas side closes garbage fee loophole

May 15th, 2019 by Karl Richter in Texarkana News

The Texarkana, Ark., Board of Directors voted Tuesday to approve an ordinance changing how the city charges multifamily residences for refuse service.

The board voted 5-1 in favor of the change and on an emergency clause making it effective immediately. Ward 2 Director Laney Harris voted no on both, and Ward 4 Director Travis Odom was absent.

A decades-old ordinance had allowed multifamily residences, such as apartment complexes, to get discounts on their garbage bills for self-reported vacancies. The amendment closed the loophole while allowing for reduced occupancy during major remodels or other construction work.

Because of an objection from Ward 2 Director Laney Harris during the board's May 6 regular meeting, a vote on the measure was delayed.

During that meeting, Harris objected to fast-tracking the change, saying the public should have more time to comment on it. He voted no to a required third reading of the measure, pushing the vote to the special meeting called for Tuesday afternoon.

In a brief discussion before the vote Tuesday, Harris said he was not against the change but did not see why it could not wait until the board's next regular meeting May 20.

Mayor Allen Brown, Ward 5 Director Barbara Miner and Ward 6 Director Terri Peavy responded, saying it was important to make the change as soon as possible as a matter of financial responsibility.

Over the past three years, the loophole has cost the city about $280,000, Public Works Director Tyler Richards told the board on May 6.

"No such credit is heard of in other cities," Richards said.

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