It appears the City Council may back away from the decision to fine people $25 for not rolling their garbage cans back from the street by 7 p.m. on garbage collection day.

City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson interrupted the City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 19 to bring up the garbage can issue.

Johnson said, “I’d like to ask for us to table the decision we made about the garbage can fees.  I want us to talk about some other options.”

There is a parliamentary procedure for bringing a matter that has been voted on back before the City Council.  It is called reconsideration.  A motion for reconsideration can be made by any councilmember who voted on the prevailing side.  If the motion passes then the matter is back before the City Council as if no vote had ever taken place.

Johnson – who was first elected to the City Council in 1993 and was mayor from 2007 to 2009 – however, didn’t make a motion to reconsider.  She said she wanted to “table the decision.”

Johnson said, “I’d like to talk about other ways that we can have the same result and encourage neighbors to be neighbors.”

Johnson added that she had heard from a lot of people who didn’t like the action of the City Council to fine people.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan asked if the City Council needed to vote to bring the matter back up.

City Attorney Chuck Watts said, “I don’t think that requires a vote.”

The result is that no vote was taken to reconsider the action taken by City Council to impose a fine of $25 for residents who don’t roll their garbage and recycling containers back from the street by 7 p.m. on collection day.

The ordinance doesn’t require residents to roll their garbage and recycling cans back from the street by 7 p.m. on collection day, so it is unclear what authority the city has to fine residents for not doing something the City Council would like them to do.

The current status of the $25 fine is hard to follow.

The City Council voted to implement the roll back fine beginning on July 1.  However, without any vote, the decision was made to institute a 120-day moratorium on implementing the fines.

Now, again without any vote, the City Council appeared to agree to reconsider implementing the $25 fine.  No one spoke against Johnson’s suggestion that the fine be tabled and, much later in the meeting, Councilmember Hugh Holston said he agreed that the City Council needed to “rethink that program.”

This City Council has, during the past four years, often ignored parliamentary procedure and its own policies, so it seems fitting at its penultimate meeting that the City Council would follow that same confusing procedure.

What is the current status of the $25 fine? Who knows.