Little, Council debate hauling

Published 11:03 am Friday, October 24, 2008

Little’s Inc. President Dennis Little spent an hour and 15 minutes discussing a city ordinance that would vastly increase the fees for non-local septic haulers during Thursday’s Ironton City Council meeting.

Little described himself as a business owner who has met the city’s criteria to be considered a local hauler. Council members suggested Little Inc. is not a legitimate Ironton business and skirting the rules to take advantage of cheaper rates.

“It looks like your business in Ironton is a faade,” Councilman Kevin Waldo told Little. “We just don’t think it’s fair for you to consider yourself an Ironton business because you have a sign in a building.”

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Little’s business has 26 employees and does routine business in Ironton and Lawrence County, but operates out of Wheelersburg. He told council members he has always done what was asked of him and has paid the city more than $40,000 so far this year with an estimate of $60,000 by the end of the year.

“It’s my genuine feeling that some people in the city of Ironton do not want Littles, Inc., to do business with the city,” Little said.

Leo Johnson, who sponsored the ordinance with Mike Lutz and Chuck O’Leary, said he had concern about putting stress on the waste water treatment facility from waste that was not generated in the city.

That was a sentiment echoed by Lutz, but both councilmen said they are not discouraging business in the city.

“I’d love for him to bring his whole operation to the city of Ironton,” Lutz said. “I’d be glad to help him do it.”

Said Johnson: “I’m not discouraging business, but we need to take a close look at septic haulers.”

The exchanges between council members and Little were terse at times, including discussions about Little disposing waste from another business that was not permitted to do so with the city.

Little said he was unaware of any conflict between the city and the business before Councilman Chuck O’Leary fired back, “Well, now you know.”

The ordinance, which received a first reading, would increase the fees for use of the city’s waste water treatment plant by businesses that operate outside the city.

The ordinance would also redefine a septic hauler as a hauler that has at least five full-time employees on whose incomes the hauler withholds and pays income tax to the city and has paid utility bills to the city that average at least $100 per month in the last year.

Any hauler not falling into that category will be considered a “non-residential,” or non-local, hauler.

The rates for local haulers will remain the same ($25/up to 1,000 gallons; $50/1,001-2,000 gallons; $75/2,001-3,000 gallons; $100/more than 3,000 gallons).

The rates will increase dramatically for non-local haulers. The ordinance would create a daily fee of $250. On the same scale, rates increase to $100 (up form $50), $200 (up from $100), $300 (up from $150) and $400 (up from $200), respectively.

Little took particular exception to the stipulation about utility use of $100 per month in the last year. He said he would be willing to comply with rules to become a local hauler, but could not meet that retroactive requirement, which he said would not be possible for anyone wanting to start a new business.

Councilman Kevin Waldo agreed with that point and at one time made a motion to redact it from the ordinance. Council opted instead to give it the first reading with the option of altering it throughout the process.

Mayor Rich Blankenship said the cost of chemicals and the amount of time city workers have to dedicate to the disposal should be factored into council’s decision-making process.

In other business:

4Council tabled an ordinance that would give the mayor and vice mayor access to the records of any employer or taxpayer for the purpose of verifying the accuracy of any tax return.

Waldo and city finance director Kristen Martin want to make sure the ordinance falls in line with the Fifth Amendment and IRS regulations.

4Council unanimously adopted a resolution to authorize the transfer of $4,100 from the general fund to the recreation department fund for the purpose of paying unemployment to a former recreation director.

4Council also unanimously adopted a resolution to name Blankenship the city’s representative on the District 15 Public Works Integrating Committee. The committee determines funding for various infrastructure projects in 12 southeastern Ohio counties.

4Safe Trick-or-Treat is scheduled from 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. on Monday at the city center and downtown area. The parade will follow.