MURFREESBORO, Tennessee — Although it’s hypothetical at this point, Rutherford County residents could have to pay a new monthly fee to handle the county’s growing trash problem, County Mayor Bill Ketron said last week.
This could start a trend that reverberates across all of Middle Tennessee, said county residents who showed up for a meeting to discuss the matter.
“One of our cities charges $5 on a local water bill per month. We may have to rethink the way we think about trash and the way we handle it. It may be that handling our trash becomes another utility bill with homeowners to look at,” Ketron told a gathering of about 100 people at Murfreesboro’s Patterson Park Community Center.
“Now, I’m just saying maybe to this. Don’t quote me saying it will happen. These are all things that have to be considered. At some point in time, dealing with our trash is not going to be free. It’s getting to that point where we are all going to have to pay the price, but a lot of that will come from recycling and reeducating and now it’s time to be bold.”
That boldness apparently will include stiffer penalties for people who litter, Ketron told the audience.
“If someone throws trash out the window and it has a receipt with their name on it then the cities and the county will have to increase the fines for people trying to get rid of their trash,” Ketron said.
Ketron also said he and officials from cities within the county, including Smyrna and Murfreesboro, toured composting facilities in Sevierville and even California and Las Vegas as an example for Rutherford to follow.
A composting facility is an offsite location where the organic component of municipal solid waste decomposes under controlled conditions.
The Las Vegas location was adjacent to a swine farm with nearly 6,000 pigs, Ketron said.
“They made arrangements with the local casinos, hotels, and restaurants to divert 45 percent of all the food waste from those restaurants and divert it from the landfill to feed to the pigs,” Ketron said.
“Then I’m sure they turned around just like our grandparents used to. My grandparents used to have two hogs, and they would fatten them up with all the scraps and then process them in the fall. They killed hogs and put them in the freezer, and that is what they feed on for the rest of the year. Same thing there. It’s the circle of life, processing the meat, sausage and bacon. It has to go somewhere, so why can’t we do that here?”