Updated:LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. —
Two years into Gwinnett County's mandatory trash plan, commissioners approved breaks for seniors and owners of vacant property.
The discount, which will apply to 2013 bills, allows about 15,000 seniors to receive a 15 percent reduction to the annual bill, which was about $217.92 in 2011. The break, approved Tuesday, applies to seniors 65 or older with an annual income below $10,000 who have filed a senior homestead exemption, as well as those with incomes up to $25,000 who qualify for a senior school exemption. Disabled people with an L5A exemption also qualify.
Commissioners also approved an exemption for property owners with valid vacant structure or boarding up permits. County officials said the housing bubble left about 1,500 vacant structures in the county, according to permits.
An analysis released last month said the savings -- which will amount to about $33 a year for seniors -- would cost the county more than $500,000. But officials imposed a 3 percent regulatory fee for commercial solid waste, which is expected to pay for the measure.
"These tweaks to the solid waste plan address inequities for owners of vacant properties, give qualified seniors a break and help promote recycling throughout the county," Solid Waste and Recovered Materials Director Tom Keith said. "Our residential customers have already recycled more than 41,000 tons of paper, metal, glass and other materials since the countywide solid waste program began two years ago."
Commissioners also approved changes to the county's solid waste ordinance related to the appeals process associated with hauler performance and allowing quarterly billing for residential parcels such as mobile home parks with service fees that exceed $25,000 annually.
In addition, commercial trash haulers that serve Gwinnett businesses will be required to offer recycling, beginning Jan. 1. The requirement to all authorized haulers who collectively serve more than 6,500 commercial and construction/demolition accounts in unincorporated Gwinnett County.