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Board to mull new trash plan

LAWRENCEVILLE -- More than a year after a controversial solid waste plan was disposed of in a Gwinnett County court, commissioners will consider a new trash hauling ordinance.

While the ordinance on Tuesday's commission agenda is billed as an attempt to bring closure to multiple court cases, it contains many of the same provisions some county residents railed against, including making the service mandatory, the county picking haulers for service districts and putting fees for trash service on tax bills.

Attempts to reach officials from hauling companies and What a Waste Gwinnett, which filed petitions against such provisions, were unsuccessful Friday.

The biggest change from the 2008 ordinance is that the implementation and enforcement are not controlled by nonprofit Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, a bone of contention that had caused Judge Michael Clarke to enjoin the previous plan.

"We're actually very excited about moving solid waste forward," Chief Financial Officer Aaron Bovos said Friday.

"It goes back to ultimately trying to find the best program to meet the needs of the constituents," he said, adding that like the county's millage rate debate a year ago, residents have been divided on the positives of the plan.

The document, which again divides the county into five service districts and allows county officials to choose one hauler for each district, is considered a "foundation" for a new solid waste procedure, spokesman Joe Sorenson said.

Many questions, including fees, are not yet answered, but the plan allows for expanded recycling and disposal of white goods and bulky wastes. Recycling is not mandatory, Sorenson said, but residents are given more options.

Also Tuesday, commissioners are expected to extend agreements with current haulers until the end of June, so the new plan can take effect in July.

In July, residents' tax bills could include a service fee to cover trash hauling through December 2011. The ordinance stipulates that every residence with a certificate of occupancy must pay for the service, even if the property is vacant.

Sorenson said the matter is not up for a public hearing Tuesday, giving residents an opportunity to voice concerns to commissioners only after the vote during a time for public comment.