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County will have to tally protests against Scofield service district

Wayne Frandsen raises some questions for commissioners at Wednesday's hearing.

Sun Advocate associate editor

With 40 protest letters filed against the county's proposal to expand the Scofield Special Service District and include garbage disposal in the fees, the county commission has called a time out to assess the situation.

That means literally assess the valuation of the properties represented by those 40 writers. It takes 33 percent of the property value to kill a proposal to create or amend such a district.

Meanwhile, commission attorney Christian Bryner told commissioners there has also been a petition submitted with 35 names on it. That's questionable, however, because the petition doesn't explain why the signers are opposed.

There are 1,360 lots in the area, with 481 owners notified of the proposal. But since the law deals with property valuation rather than head count, the county must make sure that the protestors have less than 33 percent of the total.

The commission has recommended the expansion of the district and the garbage fee to offset the cost of hauling garbage and paying tipping fees from the Scofield area.

It now costs the county - meaning all taxpayers - between $38,000 and $44,000 a year to do that, according to commissioner Mike Milovich. The $45 annual fee per resident would bring in about $18,000 per year in revenue.

"That's less than $4 a month. That's not going to break anyone's back," he commented.

More than a dozen residents attended Wednesday's session. Several brought up the issue that the Scofield area does not get the same level of services - schools, law enforcement and the like - as other parts of the county.

However, commissioner John Jones responded that the county has recently finished two bridges there, which more than covers the cost of the property taxes paid.

He added, "What do you want? Should we keep the dumpsters there, or have us pull them out and take your chances?"

The chances he referred to were the prospects of having garbage blowing all over the properties there and into the county's water supply at Scofield Reservoir.

The dumpsters were put in place to give recreational users as well as residents a place to dispose of trash. For years, the county received a break on tipping fees from landfill oplandfill operator ECDC Environmental. When the company was no longer able to offer the free tipping, the county had to look for ways to fund the collection and dumping, Milovich explained.

In response to a question of why residents had to pay for garbage service that also benefits non-resident visitors to the lake, Jones said that residents are only being asked to pay part of the total cost.

Bryner also explained to the audience and commission that a special service district must prove that the services offered must benefit all property owners in the district. Noting that blowing trash could be a problem for everyone with property around Scofield, the district meets that requirement, he said.

The commission voted to table the issue until the tally of property values is calculated.

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