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Commission votes to cut garbage pickup to once a week

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 8:19 PM
Last updated Wednesday, May 16, 2012 2:00 AM
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For the first time in a dozen years, Augusta households will only see the garbage man once a week.

Augusta commission members voted 6-3-1 to adopt the “concept” of weekly pickup, with a graduated rate based on the amount of trash produced and new incentives to encourage recycling, which will continue to be collected once a week. The changes go into effect in January.

Commissioners Alvin Mason, Bill Lockett and Wayne Guilfoyle voted against the move. Commissioner J.R. Hatney abstained from voting.

Mason and Hatney said the change was equal to halving the city service without a commensurate reduction in price. Mason questioned whether residents who don’t recycle now will begin to do so because their trash can is emptied just once a week.

Guilfoyle said residents of his mostly rural District 8 already resent the compulsory waste collection imposed on them after consolidation so he could not support the change.

Environmental Services Director Mark Johnson said if the city continues semi-weekly pickup, it will be forced to pass along an increase in cost to residential customers.

According to a chart John­son showed the commission, residential rates will remain $26.75 a month, approximately what they are now, under the 2013 solid waste collection contract being finalized based on the Tuesday commission decision.

The chart showed an “ex­tra cart fee” of $10.70 for households seeking a second 95-gallon waste container, and a small cart fee of $20.07 for households who produce less garbage.

Lockett asked why the city wasn’t making more money on recycled materials. Johnson said the city presently sells methane produced by waste at the landfill to a local manufacturer, and is seeking proposals for a new sorting program to implement there.

The vote means Augusta will contract with two waste haulers, Inland Service Corp. and Advanced Disposal, to collect the waste and recycling. The haulers have agreed to work with existing subcontractors, although those details have not been finalized, Johnson said.

Included in a 2013 waste collection contract Johnson gave commissioners to review Tuesday also is the requirement that trash trucks run on compressed natural gas, or CNG. That move is expected to help Augusta’s borderline containment status, based on air pollution levels, with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Among several executives of environmental services companies who attended Tuesday’s meeting were two from American Fueling Systems, a company that builds CNG filling stations. Company CEO Rahim Charania cheered the commission vote, saying “the city of Augusta is leading the state of Georgia” in its efforts to create environmentally sustainable and cost-efficient infrastructure.

In other business Tuesday, the commission approved 8-2 a motion to impose a flat monthly water rate of $275 at Forest Hills Golf Course and First Tee of Augusta for six months until the city constructs lines to carry raw water to the golf courses.

The $275 rate is what the city charges The Patch in Augusta for water at the city-owned golf course. A large disparity between what First Tee, a program that teaches golf to inner-city youth, and nearby Forest Hills Golf Course, a University System of Georgia-owned course, pay for water, prompted the change.

Once the infrastructure is constructed, the city will establish a new untreated water rate for recipients based on the price of the new lines, Utilities Director Tom Wiedmeier said.

An earlier motion to grant First Tee a reduced temporary rate of $125 due to its smaller size failed 5-5. Mayor Deke Copenhaver was not present to cast a tiebreaking vote.

Comments (25) Add comment
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showboat
336
Points
showboat 05/15/12 - 08:28 pm
0
0
OUR COMMISSIONS MEMBERS ARE
Unpublished

OUR COMMISSIONS MEMBERS ARE A VERY SAD GROUP, PAY THE SAME AMOUNT AND GET LESS SERIVCES. WHAT A JOKE!!!!

Retired Army
17512
Points
Retired Army 05/15/12 - 08:56 pm
8
0
Well, at least they're not

Well, at least they're not calling it a tax hike. Snark, snark!

But less service for the same money shore do sound like a tax hike.

dichotomy
32875
Points
dichotomy 05/15/12 - 09:27 pm
6
0
Correct. They are taxing us

Correct. They are taxing us without calling it a tax. They bill it on our taxes. The service is totally unrelated to what we are being charged. It is a TAX.....a revenue stream for the county.

justinmiller87
2
Points
justinmiller87 05/15/12 - 09:29 pm
0
0
I never understood why they

I never understood why they came twice a week anyway. I don't get how even a normal household could generate enough garbage to justify two pickups a week.

allhans
23635
Points
allhans 05/15/12 - 09:35 pm
8
0
I agree that once a week

I agree that once a week would be enough for most households, but the rate charged should be adjusted to accommodate the difference in service.

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 05/15/12 - 09:41 pm
2
0
trash vote
Unpublished

You would think that all the trash talk from the commissioners, that
they could at least all agree and vote the same.

Willow Bailey
20580
Points
Willow Bailey 05/15/12 - 09:43 pm
2
0
It Stinks!

Doggone, Augusta can't afford to take the trash out? Deke? Commissioners? Free Alvin.

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 05/15/12 - 09:44 pm
3
0
Equal fees for Equal service.

Are the residents of the old city of Augusta going to be treated the same as the Richmond County residents? The new contract would be a good time to make EVERYONE in Augusta/Richmond County start paying the same amount for the same solid waste service.

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
Points
No_Longer_Amazed 05/15/12 - 09:48 pm
4
0
Equal fees for Equal service.

The residents of the old city of Augusta also need to be billed the same as the Richmond County residents for water/sewage service.

dichotomy
32875
Points
dichotomy 05/15/12 - 11:15 pm
3
0
It's just not right.

It is just not right, fair, or logical. Nobody has satisfactorily given a explanation as to why the fees will remain that high for once a week service. How do they rationalize essentially doubling the price of a basic municipal function? They either think we are all stupid or they think that they do not have to provide a "mandatory" service at a fair price. After all, you have no recourse against Mark Johnson and by election time the commissioners will stir up some bogus racial stuff to make you forget how they screwed you on the garbage fees. Of course, most of the ones that voted for this probably represent people who don't pay the same rate you do. That's what you get under our glorious Consolidation Charter.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 05/15/12 - 11:29 pm
1
0
This is crap...I wish some
Unpublished

This is crap...I wish some lawyer would sue the city for the residents. I cannot believe you can impose a trash tax on part of the county and not all and why aren't they taking bids....someone is getting a kickback. Welcome to Augusta where your property taxes are 1000 dollars on a 50000 dollar home.

TParty
6003
Points
TParty 05/15/12 - 11:56 pm
4
0
Other people have already

Other people have already said it- but I'll just add my support to everyone commenting so far. First of all, this has to be a first for Chronicle comments- that everyone agrees on something. I think it's a clear sign that 2012 really is the end of the world!

Seriously though- I assume everyone posting is a voter and a tax payer in the city, which this decision affects, and which we are all paying for. For all of us to have questions and concerns about this decision shows what leadership we have here. Wonderful representatives.

If our favorite restaurant decided to cut portions of our favorite meal in half, while keeping prices the same- I don't think any of use would continue to put that restaurant in the favorite category. At least we'd have the option to go somewhere else. Do these deciders expect us to just pick up and leave if we don't like this decision?

If trash needs to be picked up once a week to save money, I get it. Like some have said- they don't really need twice a week trash pick ups. I know I don't. But maybe return 40% of our money at least.

I want to see the numbers. Can the freedom of information act provide these numbers if I seek them out?

Our trash funds should go to trash services. Where is this money going towards now? Maybe towards that audit for criminal wrongdoing in Augusta’s Trade, Exhibit and Event Center parking deck project.

Don't pee in our faces and tell us it's raining.

Little Lamb
45888
Points
Little Lamb 05/16/12 - 07:43 am
1
1
Question

Okay, to all you posters who praise Commissioner Bill Lockett for “asking the tough questions,” I offer the following contrarian evidence from the story:

Lockett asked why the city wasn’t making more money on recycled materials.

Lockett asks questions like this in an attempt to embarass the person being grilled. The city is not making more money because they are making what they are making. No more; no less. What is Lockett doing to help Mark Johnson make more money? Answer — NOTHING. How did Lockett's question move the city forward? Answer — IT DID NOTHING TO MOVE THE CITY FORWARD. Look at Solid Waste Director Mark Johnson's answer to Lockett's “tough” question:

Johnson said the city presently sells methane produced by waste at the landfill to a local manufacturer, and is seeking proposals for a new sorting program to implement there.

Though Johnson did not answer Lockett's absurd question, he at least allowed Lockett to save face by not pointing out Lockett's absurdity.

Little Lamb
45888
Points
Little Lamb 05/16/12 - 08:11 am
2
0
Water

They should have raised the water rates on Forest Hills Golf Club instead of lowering the rates for First Tee. $275 a month for millions of gallons sprayed on a golf course is unfair to other water system customers who subsidize the golf courses.

Of course, Commissioner Grady Smith (who sits on the board of directors of Forest Hills Golf Club) did not excuse himself from voting, even though it is clearly a conflict of interest for him to be involved in golf course water rate votes.

boodroe
1938
Points
boodroe 05/16/12 - 08:27 am
4
0
Garbage service

I recycle every week and I do a good job with it but the garbage people leave trash all over our street it's sad they get paid to make a mess

my.voice
4811
Points
my.voice 05/16/12 - 08:29 am
2
0
What a bunch of garbage.

What a bunch of garbage. Imagine going to McDonald s and getting half a Big Mac, to Bi-Lo and having the gallon milk jug sliced in half, half an oil change, getting half a vote, getting half an education (sorry, that's already happening), half a Dr visit......BUT STILL PAYING FOR THE WHOLE.

And two Comm's abstain? Cowards.

bdouglas
5000
Points
bdouglas 05/16/12 - 08:32 am
1
0
$26.75/mo for once-a-week

$26.75/mo for once-a-week pickup is ridiculous! I live on the SC side of the river and pay $18/mo for a private contractor who picks up once a week (but no recycling). You all had a *bargain* when you were getting twice-a-week pickup plus recycling, but now you're just getting taken for a ride. In theory, they should now need half as many trucks and employees to do this work. ARC is making out like a bandit in this one!

boodroe
1938
Points
boodroe 05/16/12 - 08:41 am
2
0
Half the stuff for the same price

Private companies have already began to make stuff smaller and charge the same price a carton of ice cream used to be half a gallon it it is not less and same price as half a gallon bread used to be 24 ounces for one price now same price for 16 ounces the Government is taking economic lessons from the private sector or is it vice versa

Little Lamb
45888
Points
Little Lamb 05/16/12 - 09:04 am
0
1
Recycling Costs

@bdouglas — your lower rate for garbage pickup with no curbside recycling is precisely because of the no curbside recycling.

Recycling costs money. There is no payback. It costs more money to make cardboard from recycled cardboard than from virgin trees. It costs more money to make plastic from recycled plastic than from virgin resin. If Augusta is going to have curbside pickup of recycled paper, cardboard, plastic — and then have to pay people to sort it (see paragraph 9 in the story above) and haul the sortings to remanufacturing facilities all across the country — then Augustans are going to have to pay for the privilege.

Likewise, if Augustans are going to have curbside pickup of our storm debris and our lawn clippings and our tree and shrubbery trimmings — we are going to have to pay, and pay dearly.

Likewise, if Augustans are going to have curbside pickup of our bulky waste (stoves, sofas, mattresses, etc.) — we are going to have to pay.

Augustans have these things today, and we are paying today. We will have to pay more in the future as inflationary pressures from the bailouts (TARP, Wall Street, banks, GM & Chrysler, solar energy bankruptcies, etc.) come home to roost.

Old Timmer
260
Points
Old Timmer 05/16/12 - 09:05 am
1
0
They just don't care

Half the service for the same price is a tax increase. There is no other way to spin that. It is obvious to me that Brigham is leaving so he don't care. Aitken & Howard are most likely out so they don't care. Smith & Bowles can afford all the carts they want so ...... you get the picture. Equally disturbing is Hatney who never seems to take a vote on anything important. The answer to these problems is the same as always, do not buy property in Richmond County & if you own some sell it. Time to "take out the trash."

nocnoc
42490
Points
nocnoc 09/02/12 - 09:30 am
0
0
dichotomy
32875
Points
dichotomy 05/16/12 - 09:47 am
2
0
It's one or the other.

We are prisoners of one of two possible situations. Either Mark Johnson and the commissioners are incompetent at negotiating contracts and incapable of providing basic services at a fair and reasonable price.....OR.....the commissioners and Mark Johnson are complicit in intentionally over charging rural customers to provide a revenue stream to the county, pay haulers a higher price so that they can buy CNG trucks, and to subsidize services in the old city. After all, we really are TWO cities with TWO sets of taxes and fees, and TWO disparate priorities for spending on development and improvements. The only thing Consolidation consolidated was YOUR tax money downtown. Rural people did not get anything benefit from Consolidation and, in fact get less. And if we do get any service, like trash collection, we pay through the nose EXTRA for it.

Little Lamb
45888
Points
Little Lamb 05/16/12 - 10:06 am
1
0
Both of the above

I think it is entirely possible that both of your options are correct, dichotomy.

I feel your pain.

stillamazed
1488
Points
stillamazed 05/16/12 - 10:46 am
0
0
After living on military

After living on military bases for so long I still cannot grasp the fact that there seems to be little to no recycling from home garbage here. On base we always had sort containers along with regular trash that was picked up and I haven't seen any of that here.

Little Lamb
45888
Points
Little Lamb 05/16/12 - 11:21 am
0
0
Curbside Recycling

I take it, stillamazed, that you do not live in a home in Richmond County. If you did, you would get the information in your water bill about how to contact the Solid Waste department for a curbside recycling container. When they deliver the container, you can put your recyclable trash — paper, cardboard, certain plastics (but no aluminum nor glass) into the container. You can roll the container to the street on your designated recycling day and the recycling truck will come by and pick it up.

Neither Columbia nor Aiken counties provide that service.

bdouglas
5000
Points
bdouglas 05/16/12 - 12:43 pm
1
0
Can you opt out of trash

Can you opt out of trash service in Richmond County? I'm sure there are private services available also. Aiken County has staffed waste facilities throughout the county where residents can take their own trash, recyclables, yard waste, appliances and all.

toppergem
125
Points
toppergem 05/16/12 - 02:18 pm
1
0
Ridiculous!

We should have kept our private contractors picking up our garbage. This mess being done by the city is just that MESS!!! We thought we had some crazy folks on the Comission but now we know they are beyond crazy! Revolt is what we need to do!!

harley_52
23272
Points
harley_52 05/16/12 - 02:44 pm
1
0
Take a few moments and

Take a few moments and re-read the article as it discusses this paragraph....."Included in a 2013 waste collection contract Johnson gave commissioners to review Tuesday also is the requirement that trash trucks run on compressed natural gas, or CNG. That move is expected to help Augusta’s borderline containment status, based on air pollution levels, with the Environmental Protection Agency."

The greenies have crept into power at ARC and are hell bent on spending your money to support their agenda. Anthropogenic Climate Change was (and still is) a hoax, but it's being shoved down our throats right here in River City. Spending taxpayer dollars to buy some contractor a new fleet of garbage trucks running on compressed natural gas (CNG) instead of gasoline is not something I, as an ARC taxpayer, want to support.

Why don't they put it on the November ballot?

Little Lamb
45888
Points
Little Lamb 05/16/12 - 04:53 pm
1
0
Track Record

The last several contracts rubber-stamped by the commissioners have been (1) agreement for Paul Simon and Riverfront LLC to operate the new Marriott parking deck, (2) agreement to build the parking deck on land owned by 933 Broad LLC with Augusta having "air rights", (3) agreement for Paul Simon and Riverfront LLC to operate the actual TEE Center at no financial risk to Riverfront (i.e. all risk taken by city), (4) a contract with a private company to run the bus service, that has led to buyer's remorse.

They don't have a good track record, because Fred Russell told them to sign on the dotted line. Well, Mark Johnson works for Fred Russell. Maybe they should have taken their time with this garbage hauling service contract, too. It's not too late to go back to the drawing board.

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