JASPER, Tenn. — The Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted for a 10-cent property tax increase in June 2015 to help fund the replacement of some of the city's outdated equipment, such as the garbage truck.
Jasper began leasing a new garbage truck a few months later for $62,858 per year. It has a mechanical arm to automatically pick up and dump specially designed trash carts.
Recently, though, Mayor Paul Evans said costly repairs to the garbage truck have been needed because residents are placing items in the carts that would not be considered "household garbage."
Street Department Supervisor Ronnie Webb said the garbage truck's packer paddle had to be repaired last month for $5,304 after items placed in the carts damaged the mechanism.
"These people, when they put out block or brick or stuff like that in their garbage can, this is what happens," Evans said. "Our guys have no way of knowing when they pick that thing up what is in there."
The needed repairs in October caused the garbage truck to be out of service for about three days.
Evans pleaded with residents who have "other things" for disposal to set those to the side of the garbage containers and not in them.
"We will get it eventually," he said. "Let's don't take a chance of tearing [the garbage truck] up. Just household garbage. That's what's supposed to be in there. We're not getting that, and you can see the results of it when it happens."
The truck's original warranty was for only 24 months, so it's the city's responsibility to pay for any needed repairs now.
In one recent case, Jasper's garbage truck driver began to lift a resident's container with the mechanical arm but by happenstance discovered that it was almost full of concrete blocks and bricks.
"There's times that he can catch it, and he'll leave it," Evans said. "There's other times he can't."
Since getting the new garbage truck, Jasper hasn't had a single worker compensation claim, which was a recurring problem with the old truck because workers would have to hang off the back to ride along and manually load the trash.
"I just wish people would be more self-conscious about what they put in there," Evans said.
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.