County ends contract for solid waste enforcement

Published 12:55 am Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Covington County Commission yesterday voted to end its solid waste enforcement contract with the Alabama Department of Public Health.

“For many years, about as far back as 1995, Covington County has contracted with the Alabama Department of Public Health to provide solid waste enforcement,” Commission chairman Greg White said. “A couple years prior to that, Covington County adopted an ordinance that made participation in solid waste mandatory for all households. To do that, when there had been none at all, there certainly had to be an enforcement method in place and that was done by the Alabama Department of Public Health, by their environmental division.”

White said that the cost of the enforcement officer had to be paid by the county commission.

“We had to pay for them and provide them with a vehicle,” White said. “They would then enforce the rules and laws of Alabama, which include enforcing the mandatory participation, which meant that every household had to have a dumpster or hobo, or a waiver from that. They also police illegal dumps. Twenty-five years ago, there was a much bigger issue with illegal dumps than there is today. They would find evidence and take folks to district court.”

County attorney Stephanie Cotton said that this solid waste enforcement is a problem that would overlap several agencies.

“I think this is an area where you would have overlapping agencies,” Cotton said. “It is everybody’s problem. I don’t think that one person has exclusivity to it.”

Emergency Management Agency Director Susan Harris said that her agency usually deals with illegal dumping problems anyway.

“If we can’t handle it, then we go to the Covington County Department of Public Health,” Harris said. “But usually it is handled by the EMA. We usually handle it ourselves until we have to get fines involved.”

Commissioner Kenneth Northey said that this is an issue that they need to handle.

“I call it a public nuisance,” Northey said. “And that is where people can get hurt. People constantly have an issue trying to get around this stuff, especially on the right of ways. This needs to be addressed so we can handle these problems, because people are just ignoring these letters and everything they are getting and just letting it go.”

Commissioner Kyle Adams said that they shouldn’t pay the Alabama Department of Public Health for something that the different county departments are already doing.