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Because of issues related to COVID-19, the City of Athens has announced some temporary changes that will remain in effect until a specified time, or further notice.

"Sacrifices are being made by everyone," Mayor Monte Montgomery said. "A fast food restaurant informed me they are down about 30% in sales and we're just getting started in this."

City Manager Elizabeth Borstad said, beginning March 31, the City of Athens items collected for recycling will not be taken to the recycling center, but will instead be taken to the landfill.

The reasons for the change are the recycling items require handling by employees.

"They're going to limit exposure to the employees, which I'm sure they'll all appreciate," Borstad said.

Eliminating the handling lessens the chances of that the COVID-19 virus will be spread.

Also, with people spending more time at home, they are generating more regular trash. The trucks that would be used for recycling will be used to pick up regular trash.

"There is a clause in their contract with us that allows them to do that," Borstad said.

In addition there will be no brush pick up or bulk pick up for the near future.

Residents are urged to continue their regular trash schedule for continuity's sake. Borstad advised the trash customers to continue to separate their recyclable items from the rest of the trash.

"Eventually, you are going to go back to recycling and you don't want your recycle bin to be your trash bin," Borstad said.

Another temporary change by the city during the time of the virus thread concerns Athens Municipal Court. The court has been closed until April 9.

Borstad said the city has suspended cutoffs for delinquent utility bills as well as late penalties.

City Councilman Ed McCain said the meter is still running and the customers will still be charged for the water service.

"Everything that is in arrears will eventually have to be paid," McCain said.

The permit office is open, but the remainder of the building is closed to the public, Borstad said.

From Staff Reports

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