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City still getting complaints on garbage changes

Friday, July 12, 2013 10:18 PM
Last updated 10:46 PM
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Augusta’s transition to weekly garbage pickup hasn’t been an easy one for many customers. Perhaps no one, though, has found it as difficult as south Augusta resident Carol Bruce.

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A garbage truck drives through a south Augusta neighborhood off Deans Bridge Road. The city is working on issues with assisted pickup, Environmental Services Director Mark Johnson said.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
A garbage truck drives through a south Augusta neighborhood off Deans Bridge Road. The city is working on issues with assisted pickup, Environmental Services Director Mark Johnson said.

A serious car crash six years ago slowed Bruce down, but she stays active as a housekeeper to earn a meager living and stave off the pain from her injuries, she said.

Bruce, 72, had just become accustomed to the mandatory garbage collection added to her property tax bill in 2007, which she called “blackmail,” when he city changed her hauler and required residents seeking assisted pickup to show a doctor’s excuse.

“I don’t have a doctor; I don’t have medical care,” she said.

Bruce, who said she gives most of her recycling to a nearby school, could be exempt from the city’s garbage policy because her house is more than 300 feet from the road. Bruce said she prefers not to hire a small private hauler.

Those were just a couple of suggestions Augusta Commission members offered for Bruce’s predicament. She said another suggestion, that she visit a free medical clinic, was impossible because of her work schedule.

Bruce repeatedly called 311, the city’s customer service line. She said her garbage was emptied but the hauler left her can on her neighbor’s property, where it remains.

On Thursday, she awaited arrival by mail of a medical form, which she has 90 days to return with a physician’s signature.

The Augusta Chronicle continues to receive calls, e-mails and anonymous complaints about the trash change, as do commissioners and the 311 office; the office did not respond to a request for garbage call data.

Environmental Services Direc­tor Mark Johnson said complaints about missed pickups are decreasing but that the city continues to address issues with assisted collections, which he said are “not perfect.”

“It gets better every week,” Johnson said of the pickups. “I will put it at pretty good. I won’t put it as perfect, but I’ll put it at monumentally better than the first weeks.”

As the city tweaks the system, it creates a new onslaught of calls, such as when haulers recently picked up about 7,000 roll-off containers from National Hills and Sum­­mer­ville neighborhoods. Before the second truck with replacement containers with special radio frequency ID tags could arrive, the calls began.

Each commissioner has his own set of complaints from constituents.

Commissioner Marion Williams is not yet satisfied with the switch to weekly pickup, a decision the commission made last year – before Williams returned to office – under the premise that incentive-based recycling would limit a household’s garbage.

“The average household of three or more can’t make it like that,” he said. “Mark John­son don’t understand; the inner city don’t do no recycling.”

Across Georgia, Macon, Savannah and Atlanta provide garbage and recycling pickup once a week, and Columbus offers it twice.

Williams also takes issue with the fact that several small, minority-owned haulers weren’t included in the solid-waste contract, despite being asked to bid by the city’s two prime contractors, Inland Service Corp. and Advanced Disposal. Two other small haulers were taken on under the contract.

Commissioner Donnie Smith said households in his west Augusta district had begun to praise the weekly plan, with the exception of four condominium complexes whose communal “pen” or other arrangement of garbage containers can’t be accessed by the new trucks.

Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle urged homeowners such as Bruce to take advantage of the exemption for households that are more than 200 feet from the road. Bruce, he said, could even request a smaller container for $80 less.

“I wouldn’t want to push a container down a 300-something-foot driveway,” Guilfoyle said.

It’s too late for the city to redo its waste collection contract. Inland, Advanced and the city have invested millions in trucks powered by compressed natural gas, including construction of a fueling station, Guilfoyle said.

“I explain to people that I was not for this, I did not vote for this, but we have it now,” Commissioner Bill Lockett said. “The contract has been signed; these companies have bought those trucks and there’s no way we can get out of this contract. Let’s take advantage of what we have.”

Lockett, an avid recycler, said complaints of maggots can be easily avoided by bagging and tying up food waste before placing it into the can.

“What you see hanging out of a garbage can, it’s cardboard, paper. All that stuff should have gone in the recycling bins,” he said.

Other issues the commissioners reported were cans left with their lids open or on their side.

“Those issues have been brought to (Johnson’s) attention and he has made the haulers aware of the concerns,” Commissioner Bill Fennoy said.

Johnson said ensuring every can was replaced with its lid closed was a tall order.

“One hundred percent of the lids will not close, because you’re using hydraulics and you’re using gravity,” he said.

The small cans, available to residents who request them at a discounted price, won’t be available before the city bills for garbage service this year, Johnson said.

“We actually have to have our charges to (the) tax commissioner by the first week in August,” he said. “We had to get through all of the other issues first.”

The smaller can is available for $232.88, less than the city’s stated annual rate of $310.50 for residents outside the pre-consolidation city limits. An extra garbage carn is listed for $124.20 per year.

Comments (15) Add comment
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corgimom
32126
Points
corgimom 07/12/13 - 11:02 pm
2
7
"the inner city don’t do no

"the inner city don’t do no recycling"

They do in Charlotte. I wonder what the residents of Charlotte's inner city possess that the residents of Augusta's inner city do not.

Wonder how other cities manage it, too.

Augustaisdying
526
Points
Augustaisdying 07/13/13 - 12:09 am
7
6
The bigger mystery...
Unpublished

...is why in the world a FORMER resident of Augusta, now living in Charlotte, is obsessed with trashtalking Augusta (no pun intended) in the paper's comment section. Is Charlotte that boring?

Augustaisdying
526
Points
Augustaisdying 07/13/13 - 12:18 am
7
3
311 and before
Unpublished

I don't understand why some people worshipped the lady who used to take the Augusta Cares calls. The only time I called was to report that I saw, with my own two eyes, garbage trucks throwing in recycling too. I also wanted general information on our county's recycling program. She said she called the waste management company, and that they said my account was false. I was also questioned as to why I wanted to know about the recycling program, and I was given no info, nor told how to get it. This was BEFORE this debaucle. Also, when can we apply for smaller cans for credit, and when does the recycling credit begin? One more thing: Marion's comment on recycling ("Mark John­son don’t understand; the inner city don’t do no recycling”) speaks volumes about him and about the majority of Augusta. Marion, why don't black folks "do no recycling?" Why do you not speak English?

Darby
25462
Points
Darby 07/13/13 - 12:55 am
6
0
All I know right now is that they say they

will pick up everything and do it on the same day.

It's not happening. They keep leaving things they used to pick up under the old system and there seems to be no rhyme or reason for it.

Just thinking out loud now. Where on earth did that expression "rhyme or reason" come from? Doesn't make any sense to me at all.

Reason I can understand, but rhyme???

tl-bro
155
Points
tl-bro 07/13/13 - 08:00 am
0
2
Settle down...

I've got a family of five, including three children under 10 who can generate a lot of trash. We've been recycling for years and only rolling the trash can to the street once a week. IT CAN BE DONE! In fact, most weeks now, my trash can isn't even full, but the recycling can is. 80%+ of the population shouldn't have any problem with this new system - but all we hear about are those few that do. If all these other cities only pick up once a week, there is no reason Augusta can't.

nocnoc
42311
Points
nocnoc 07/13/13 - 08:10 am
4
0
Why are you people complaining now?

The chance to change this was 3-4 years ago and TOO MANY were silent.

Remember all it took was 6 commissioners and a few Big NATIONAL Garbage haulers with some "gifts & rewards" to put local haulers out of work, along with 100's of workers.

Too many sat by and let it happen.

The ARC needs a Super Majority Voting Rule
on ALL New taxes, tax increases, service fee hikes or service reductions.

Yes I griped and my South side Commissioner listen.
Only to be out voted by Downtown.

BTW: I am also having fly problems and overflowing cans.
The once a 1 week pick up may work for small families and homes. 1 size done not serve all. It is obvious no one thought about large families, families with daper babies, or extreme elderly.

Sure it sinks but TOO many sat back and let it happen. What you going to do about it eat millions in startup costs? Why do you think the National Hauler had ARC spend all that $,$$$,$$$.00 up front ... to lock us in.

we have 3 people in our house

allhans
23603
Points
allhans 07/13/13 - 08:05 am
2
1
Use your garbage disposal (if

Use your garbage disposal (if available) use all those plastic grocery bags to bag up old food stuffs and find a spot in the refrigerator until the night before pick-up. All sorts of ways to avoid odor and bugs....I was taught that as a child.

nocnoc
42311
Points
nocnoc 07/13/13 - 08:26 am
4
0
Do the garbage math

in 2008, each person in the United States created a daily average of 4.5 pounds.

So with the average GA household size of 2.63 people per household.

2.63. x 4.5. x 6.5 days = 76.9 pounds

But many families in Richmond Co. are 4 or more.

4 X 4.5 pounds X 6.5 days = 117 Pounds

Either way it is a lot garbage to attract flies sitting around
for a week or for someone to roll out to the curb.

BTW: You are required to place the can withing 3 feet of the roadway. EVEN if the traffic is zooming by you at 55+ mph.

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 07/13/13 - 08:55 am
4
0
Ya'll don't understand

We are complaining that we have to pay the same price for once a week pick up as we did for twice a week. I'm ok with once a week, i usually put out my bin once a week since I started recycling months ago. Just don't miss your pick up day like I did.

dashiel
176
Points
dashiel 07/13/13 - 09:10 am
5
0
SMALLER GARBAGE CONTAINER?

How do you get one? Is it like property taxes? Get one now and continue paying for the bigger one for another year? Or Augusta Utilities where those who use a thousand gallons a month get an annual rate increase for their conservation efforts? Garbage in, Garbage out. Media hogs & showboating pimps rule.

corgimom
32126
Points
corgimom 07/13/13 - 09:25 am
2
6
Augustaisdying, it's a

Augustaisdying, it's a mystery to me why you should care where other posters live. Your life boring?

dichotomy
32672
Points
dichotomy 07/13/13 - 09:48 am
3
0
"It’s too late for the city

"It’s too late for the city to redo its waste collection contract. Inland, Advanced and the city have invested millions in trucks powered by compressed natural gas, including construction of a fueling station, Guilfoyle said."

The CONTRACTS that need to be redone are the contracts for the COMMISSIONERS that got us in to this LONG TERM, OVERPRICED MESS. And Mark Johnson, when WE are locked into a contract where we are paying over $300 a year for a service that SHOULD cost $150-$200 a year, things should damned well be PERFECT. I'm glad Guilfoyle admitted that we are not paying for garbage service......we are really paying for the Mark Johnson Memorial Compressed Natural Gas Empire and Service Station and buying his captive customers new trucks. Our GARBAGE SERVICE should really be costing us $150 a year for once a week service.

"Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle urged homeowners such as Bruce to take advantage of the exemption for households that are more than 200 feet from the road."

Well that is pretty hard to do when they require you to show proof of private hauler service to get exempted AND THE COUNTY HAS RUN THEM ALL OUT OF BUSINESS. How about having the Solid Waste folks ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN a LIST OF PRIVATE HAULERS licensed to do business in RC, THEIR CURRENT RATES, AND THE AREAS THEY COVER.

internationallyunknown
4166
Points
internationallyunknown 07/13/13 - 09:59 am
3
0
Proactive.

If there had been a recycling campaign months before the switch, I'm sure this Would have gone over smoother.

O I love the sight of maggots and the smell of week old garbage, as I take walks around my neighborhood.

seenitB4
86577
Points
seenitB4 07/13/13 - 10:09 am
3
3
Corgi

I'm surprised that augustaisdying even wants to post with the uneducated morons on here...it seems his INTELLIGENCE is just so more advanced than any here...hahahh....THAT POSTER NEEDS A LIFE!

Little Lamb
45764
Points
Little Lamb 07/13/13 - 12:41 pm
2
0
New, yet maybe the same

I have been generally impressed with the "new" Marion Williams since he was sworn in as Commissioner early this year. But this statement sets him back a notch in my eyes:

“The average household of three or more can’t make it like that,” Commissioner Williams said. “Mark John­son don’t understand; the inner city don’t do no recycling.”

Well, Commissioner Williams, perhaps you could set up some workshops and demonstrations in the inner city where you and solid waste department personnel can instruct inner city residents into the benefits and techniques of recycling. Curbside recycling is a luxury we in Richmond County are fortunate to have. Augusta inner city residents are intelligent enough to do the right thing if their political leadership and church leadership would just show them the way.

gargoyle
16696
Points
gargoyle 07/13/13 - 02:43 pm
1
0
How or where are the recycled

How or where are the recycled trash cans from Richmond County sorted for recoverable items? Inquiring minds need to Know.

Little Lamb
45764
Points
Little Lamb 07/13/13 - 03:50 pm
1
0
TV

That would be a great story for George Eskola, Channel 6 News, gargoyle!

Cadence
219
Points
Cadence 07/15/13 - 10:37 pm
0
0
I recycled for years

I recycled for years before this transition, and never had trouble with too much trash. I'd say 2/3s of my garbage went into the recycling bin and the trash was never full. Just get a recycling bin and get used to using it. You will feel good about not adding more to the dump, and will have more room in your trash can.

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