An even bigger mess

New garbage collection schedule wasn't executed cleanly

Maybe it’s a coincidence, maybe not. But the city of Augusta rolled out its enchanced “3-1-1” government help phone line this month about the same time it made major changes to trash collection.

The result: 3-1-1 might just as well have been 9-1-1. The city’s help line received some 1,200 calls a day during the first week of the new trash schedule rollout.

You can’t blame customers for being royally chapped. Not only has the city changed collection days and collectors, but service has been cut back to once a week from twice a week while maintaining the same fees.

City officials say the cutback prevented a rate increase. But customers understandably feel like they’re getting half the service for the same price.

And when the rollout
occurred, so many customers were skipped that the neglected trash became stinking messes all over town.

Many of us are sitting back and wondering: Would private haulers working directly for their customers have operated in such a slipshod fashion?

Unlikely. In a free market, one must deliver the goods – or pick them up, as it were – to survive.

How could the two hauling companies under city contract, particularly Advanced Disposal, have not planned this better? That company apparently had to call in resources from other locales.

And while hiccups can be expected when going from multiple providers to just two, all the customers know is that they’ve been forced to accept once-a-week hauling instead of two at the same rate – many of whom were skipped altogether.

Seems paradoxical, but with government it seems true enough: Things might have actually been less chaotic if customers had been required to contract with a private hauler on their own. Then again, in this day and age, asking people to be responsible for themselves is tragically foolhardy.

Under such circumstances, we’d be hard-pressed to trash the city’s Environmental Services department. We’ve dumped quite a load of responsibility on them that belongs on the streets instead.

Too bad such responsibility can’t be left on the curbside along with the garbage.

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Rick McKee Editorial Cartoon