Keep Bulloch Beautiful was a successful program while it lasted, but budget cuts and personnel attrition led to its demise, and Bulloch County commissioners do not anticipate its resurrection soon.
The program was largely funded by the City of Statesboro, which operates the county landfill on Lakeview Road and charges the county solid waste division, as well as others who use the landfill, a tippage fee based on weight, said Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch. A portion of that fee was set aside for KBB’s operations.
The program dwindled, however, after former executive director Kelly Collingsworth and former solid waste director Bob Smith each stepped down, with Collingsworth seeking another job opportunity and Smith becoming ill, he said.
When the program was founded in 2000, KBB’s mission was to enhance the beauty of Bulloch County through education and public events. It was focused on waste reduction and recycling, litter prevention and beautification. Keep Bulloch Beautiful often worked with businesses, schools, governments and individuals in its beautification efforts.
It was an affiliate group of Keep America Beautiful and KeepGeorgia Beautiful and had a 16-member board representing Bulloch County, Statesboro, Portal, Brooklet, Register and the Statesboro-Bulloch Chamber of Commerce when it was active. Both Smith and Collingsworth were very active in promoting and supporting the program. Couch said.
But the City of Statesboro began making cuts to its funding, and Bulloch County also included the KBB program in its own budget cuts, he said. The county has not had a tax increase for eight years, instead cutting “everywhere we could” in the county budget in order to avoid a tax hike.
After Collingsworth and Smith left, both city and county leaders arranged meetings to discuss the program, but nothing ever came of the few meetings, Couch said.
One of the KBB efforts was to encourage recycling. Currently, the only option people have to recycle is to take items to one of several recycling centers around the county -17 in all, he said. A program where the county offered curbside recyclables pickup in Statesboro, Brooklet and Portal will end Sept. 1. There is talk about another recycling station being built in the southern end of the county in the near future, he said.
However, “There are no immediate plans to resurrect Keep Bulloch Beautiful,” Couch said. “We would have to up the (proposed) tax increase substantially.”
Hearings in a proposed 1.9 mil increase in county property taxes will be held at the Bulloch County Annex July 23 and Aug. 4.
“If funding was available, I’d be supportive to find a way to resurrect it,” he said.
Bulloch County Commissioner Roy Thompson said city funding cuts added a financial burden to the county’s coffers.
“Is it a worthwhile program? Yes,” he said. “I hope it can be resurrected in the future.”
Holli Deal saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.