Following Heavy Rains, Exmore Talks About Trash in Roadside Ditches

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By Stefanie Jackson-  At Exmore’s council meeting Monday night, one day after heavy rains that caused flooding in several parts of town, the first public comment heard was from Brenda Bailey, who spoke out about ditches being full of trash and not draining properly.

She said she was frustrated because it’s an ongoing problem and no one ever does anything about it.

Council members said the town is limited in what it could do about ditch maintenance, and so is Northampton County.

“What can we do to pull together?” Bailey asked.

Town Manager Robert Duer asked Bailey to wait until around October 31 or mid-November to allow time to survey the ditches, particularly on the seaside. He suspected the ditches were full of improperly disposed tires.

Council members also discussed how to reduce the cost of the town’s trash collection service, which is operating at a loss. They agreed that landfill tipping fees, which had only risen 5 percent, were not to blame. The majority of the expense of trash pickup is in labor and equipment. The type of garbage truck used also makes a difference in labor costs. A regular garbage truck requires three workers, but an automated side loader – the type of garbage truck with equipment that automatically grabs waste containers at the curb and dumps trash directly into the truck – can be fully operated by one person.

Contracting out the trash collection service was suggested. Duer said that option had been researched previously and would likely result in a “push” – neither a loss nor a profit – but it could be reconsidered.

Recycling was mentioned, but Duer said, “Recycling is dead,” because it is so difficult to find a company willing to pick up recyclables. There also remains the question of who would sort the items, Duer added.

Other services provided by the town, such as the police force, administration, public works, and water supply, generate enough income to cover losses in sewer and sanitation services and still net an overall profit.

A financial report on Exmore’s profits and losses from December 2013 to July 2018 showed that during Duer’s 4.5 years thus far as town manager, the town has gained a net profit of $1.8 million.

As of June 30, 2013, the town’s checking and savings balances, totaling more than half a million dollars, had more than doubled since the previous year.

In 2014, those balances began to approach the $1 million mark, which was surpassed the following year. Fiscal years 2015, 2016, and 2017 ended with Exmore having about $1.4 million, $1.7 million, and $2.1 million, respectively, in the bank.

As of June 30, 2018, Exmore has more than $2.6 million in cash on hand and continues to maintain a balance between its assets and liabilities and equity.

Duer did not take all the credit. Rather, he commended the whole staff for working together to manage the town.

Earlier this year, Exmore residents complained about the overpopulation of stray cats in town. Duer reported that with some charitable assistance from local organizations, 40 cats were either spayed or neutered recently.

“Everybody’s happy, except the cats,” Duer joked.

Upcoming special events at Exmore Town Park include the second annual Shakespeare in the Park, featuring a performance of “As You Like It” on Friday, Sept. 21, at 7:30 p.m.

The first annual Artisans Festival follows on Saturday, Sept. 22, where creators of arts, crafts, food, and more will showcase and sell their work.

Two weeks later, the first annual Eastern Shore Music & Soul Food Festival will also make its premiere, on Friday, Oct. 5, and Saturday, Oct. 6.

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