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Augusta Commission could approve trash pickup change

GARBAGE COLLECTION DEBATE

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Augusta officials are defending the proposed switch to weekly trash pickup as necessary to keep costs down and encourage recycling.

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Johnny Hohlwein collects trash along Battle Row in Augusta for Inland Service Corp. Many waste-haulers operating on a month-to-month contract with the city are demanding change.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Johnny Hohlwein collects trash along Battle Row in Augusta for Inland Service Corp. Many waste-haulers operating on a month-to-month contract with the city are demanding change.

The move, approved twice by an Augusta Commission committee but not yet by the full commission, comes after a dozen years of semiweekly trash collection with weekly recycling pickup.

Both services are underutilized, according to Environ­mental Services Director Mark Johnson.

For the second weekly trash run, which costs the city about $2 million a year, “if you look at the tonnage on the second day of collecting, it’s lower,” Johnson said.

In addition, the city pays $1.4 million annually for its recycling program, which is used by only 20 percent of about 62,000 customer households, he said.

Johnson has pushed to revamp the service since before the collection contract ran out in 2010. After two one-year extensions, Augusta has been on a month-to-month contract with several waste haulers since January.

The contractors are unwilling to continue operating on a monthly contract, and the city can’t maintain existing service levels at current prices, Johnson said.
“We’re trying to get it where we don’t have to raise rates,” District 8 Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle said.

Still, the prospect of changes to trash service brings back bad memories for many people in the largely rural District 8, which balked at mandatory trash pickup imposed on households after city-county consolidation, he said.

In the proposal, several thousand more District 8 households still responsible for their own trash will be compelled to use the city service. That means some of the independent waste haulers retained by residents for years might lose business, Guilfoyle said.

“People want to take care of the small people,” he said. “They don’t like to see them gone.”

The areas resemble Columbia County, where each household is responsible for hiring its own trash and recycling company, and competing garbage companies often pass each other in the street semiweekly.

In west Augusta’s District 7, Commissioner Jerry Brigham said he hasn’t detected much concern about the switch to weekly pickup.

“For the most part, the population is getting older and would be in a situation where they don’t need as much,” Brigham said.

The choice is “either a reduction in service at about the same rate, or the rates are going to go up,” he said.

Most customers pay around $360 a year for the service. The charge appears on their tax bills.

Johnson said that under the proposal, households get a choice of a 35-gallon cart at a discounted price, a standard 95-gallon container for around existing rates or, for larger families, two containers for an additional fee.

“Your bill is going to be driven on how much waste you produce; that should be a decent incentive for you to want to recycle,” he said.

Residents who don’t recycle will be further motivated by a new system called Recycling Perks, which awards points to users who register online, he said.

The more a household recycles, the more points it is awarded in the form of coupons for goods and services or money donated to charities. If approved Tuesday, the changes will go into effect in January.

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csraguy
2274
Points
csraguy 05/11/12 - 02:52 am
4
3
Trash Service

Most don't need twice a week service. If it will save the county $2 Million then cancel the service immediately.

Anyone wanting additional service weekly can certainly request and pay for it from private haulers, including the company that the city uses.

This is a no-brainer.

Common.sense
465
Points
Common.sense 05/11/12 - 02:59 am
3
1
Less service, same fee

I don't see how this is a no brainer.

BAMABOY
20
Points
BAMABOY 05/11/12 - 06:47 am
6
0
The city does not pay for the

The city does not pay for the trash pickup. The property owners do. Look at your tax bills.

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 05/11/12 - 07:47 am
0
0
Brought to you from your fine
Unpublished

Brought to you from your fine city leaders...the trash tax!!

TParty
6003
Points
TParty 05/11/12 - 08:12 am
4
0
bamaboy is right, trash

bamaboy is right, trash services is paid for by property taxes that home owners obviously pay. I pay extra because I want the recycling service. If going down to one a day will save some money, I hope my property taxes goes down some too. If the city believes the money needs to be diverted some where else- I hope we can vote on that.

oldlady60
26
Points
oldlady60 05/11/12 - 08:30 am
5
1
This is the most stupid idea

This is the most stupid idea the commissioners have ever had. the county will again look like a trash dump. WE (the taxpayers pay for this service) not the commissioners. they act like this is a gift to US the property owners. Don't they know that people will start dumping their trash along the road again because their cans are full with no place else to put it except in the street.

dichotomy
32961
Points
dichotomy 05/11/12 - 08:38 am
5
0
Logically, cutting the

Logically, cutting the service in half SHOULD result in a significant price REDUCTION. But they still want to charge us $302 for once a week service. Mark Johnson has stated that keeping twice a week service would require about a $40 a year increase. That would be $342 or thereabouts. Seems to me that once a week service would be more like $171 or so. But they want to keep charging us $302. The math don't pass the smell test. There is nothing that can inflate the cost of a service like a government contract. In 12 years my garbage fees are almost as much as what my property taxes used to be.....that is before the commissioners started planning for all that "explosive growth" we were supposed to see, rezoned our property, and inflated our property values and property taxes. We ain't seen any growth out this way but we still have the tax increases. Now they are gouging us on the garbage fees. If they give us half the service and charge us twice the value, who is getting the profits? Where are the kickbacks going? The price of fuel is about the same. The price of labor is about the same. Where is double the rate going?????

I do believe that under this new contract they are rquiring the haulers to use vehicles that use Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), which means that we effectively will have to buy the haulers new vehicles. How much of this exhobitanat increase is tied to this requirement? In hard economic times was this such a smart thing to do right now? Oh well, I guess when they are putting a tax lien on my property because I can't pay the garbage fees I can be safe and secure in the knowledge that the garbage truck that comes by once a week is only putting out half the pollution.

creolechick
72
Points
creolechick 05/11/12 - 09:19 am
2
2
Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

Since I've been using my recycle can, I could do with regular trash pick up only once every 2 weeks. We should definitely drop trash pick up to once a week. Maybe people would finally start doing the right thing and recycle more.

Old Timmer
260
Points
Old Timmer 05/11/12 - 09:20 am
3
0
Guilfoyle a disappointment.

Guilfoyle is really a disappointment. The best trash pickup we ever had was when I employed the Smith & Sons private company. Came up the driveway to get the cans. Handled all yard waste and just about anything else. I sure miss them. If I'm not getting my trash bill decreased, this is only hurting my home. If you want to know some cuts to the county budget, ask the people, we can share a few.

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 05/11/12 - 09:24 am
2
2
If recycling cost $1.4 mil

If recycling cost $1.4 mil and only 20% use it, why not cut recycling? I saw them dump recycling in with regular trash anyway. Do they not sell recycled trash to someone? My trash is less on Thursday because it was just dumped two days ago on Monday. Then I wait 4 days til Monday comes around. Not to mention the large amounts of people that forget to put their bins out and the numerous amounts of vacant homes that pay the fee but don't use the service.
I agree with dichotomy, half the service should be half the fee. Trash taxes should be spent on trash only, not to balance other budgets.

double_standard
166
Points
double_standard 05/11/12 - 09:50 am
1
0
The enterprise funds are

The enterprise funds are complete jokes. When will they be investigated? I pay for trash service that I only use once a month due to composting and recycling at Sonoco. Mark Johnson needs to go get someone in there that at least has a clue. Are we making anything off the gas plant constructed out there? Where's the investigative reporters when you need them.

Jake
32544
Points
Jake 05/11/12 - 10:43 am
2
0
Puzzled

I have never understood why so many people in the CSRA are against recycling. It's as if they think it is a liberal vs conservative thing.
I live in an area with quite a dense population and our trash and recycle pickup is once a week. We are provided with 3 seperate carts, a large one for yard and food waste, take out food boxes, etc, another large one for paper, glass, metal, etc and a smaller one for actual trash.
It is really easy to do and at some point with more people coming to the CSRA, you are going to start running out of landfill space.

TParty
6003
Points
TParty 05/11/12 - 11:18 am
3
0
Jake: I agree, I think there

Jake: I agree, I think there should be more recycling. If they want to drop the trash pickup to once a week, and not alter the price to reflect it- I won't mind if my recycling options go up. I lived in Germany, and you could recycle almost everything, glass, plastics, papers, metals. As it stands now, only two types of plastic, some paper products, and aluminum cans. I personally would be okay with that if that increased, but I don't know the infrastructure.

Dichotomy has a great post.

creolechick
72
Points
creolechick 05/11/12 - 11:41 am
3
0
Re:

On my street a separate truck comes for the recycle bin. The recycling is not mixed in with the household waste trash. Come on, why are so many people so against recycling??? Is it rebellion or just plain laziness?

Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 05/11/12 - 02:36 pm
1
0
Why not the low bidder?
Unpublished

I just don't see why it's forced and if you are forcing it why it's not bid out to the lowest bidder. By the way, isn't it illegal to collect taxes for a specific purpose and not use it for that purpose? My property tax bill in ARC has went from $400 a year to $1000 a year in the last 6 years. That's pathetic.

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 05/13/12 - 08:40 am
0
0
I have one container. If I

I have one container. If I had three I would gladly separate my trash. How would three trucks cut down on costs though?

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