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Landfill topic dominates

By Staff
Leada DeVaney
Hartselle Enquirer
What was intended as a public hearing on a proposed 10-mill property tax increase and capital improvement plan quickly turned into a debate over the future of the city's landfill.
More than 100 people attended the public hearing held last night at Sparkman Civic Center. City leaders had hoped to spend the majority of time discussing the capital improvement plan and the need for a property tax increase. The residents of Valley View subdivision, located next to the landfill, had different ideas.
"We did not move to Hartselle because of the landfill," Valley View resident Jim Stephens said. "We moved here because of the schools. The council is willing to put a landfill near our houses and destroy our property values. They are fishing for us to vote on a capital improvement plan when it directly effects our houses."
The council is proposing a $29 million capital improvement plan. Projects cover a wide variety of areas, including road construction, fire department equipment, drainagework, funding for the school system and $697,000 for landfill expansion.
To fund these plans, the council is considering a 10-mill property tax increase. Hartselle residents would have to approve any such property tax increase.
About 40 Valley View residents attended the public hearing to speak against expansion of the landfill.
"It's quite appalling to expect taxpayers in a neighborhood to vote for a tax that would destroy our neighborhood," Bluff Street resident Jerry Howard said.
Residents questioned not only the plans to expand the landfill, but also its current operations and management.
Several residents said they had seen out of city trucks bringing garbage to the landfill and that items such as computers, mattresses and office equipment was dumped at the site. The city's policy prohibits out of area garbage at the landfill and only leaves and yard waste are supposed to be accepted.
Despite the protest, city leaders said they are hoping some version of the capital improvement plan will be passed. Those attending the meeting were given a survey of items and ask to rank them in perceived order of importance.
At the bottom of the survey, attendees were asked if they would support a property tax increase.
For a complete recap of Thursday's public hearing, as well as a copy of the survey, see next week's Hartselle Enquirer.