City official recommends garbage pickup be reduced to once a week

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Augusta will have a chance to renegotiate the terms of citywide garbage service next year, and Solid Waste Director Mark Johnson says he’ll recommend cutting back from twice-a-week to once-a-week trash pickup.

The contracts with Augusta Disposal & Recycling, Inland Service, Corp., and Advanced Disposal end Dec. 31, 2010. The city could extend them to 2012 without changes, take the opportunity to re-set the parameters and cut costs, or put the jobs back out for bid, Mr. Johnson said.

At Monday’s Engineering Services Committee meeting he told city commissioners – who will ultimately decide – that he doesn’t think city residents need their cans dumped twice a week.

“I am of the opinion that we over-serve,” Mr. Johnson said.

He also suggested allowing residents to pay different sets of rates based on how much trash they need taken away.

For those who need the least amount, they could pay to have one 35-gallon container dumped. The next step up would be a single 95-gallon can, which customers currently have. Above that, they could pay for two 95-gallon cans.

In an interview with The Chronicle, Mr. Johnson said he didn’t know how much money could be saved or what those rates might be. “There are too many moving targets right now,” he said.

Other adjustments could be made to make the service – which has been mandatory and tacked on tax bills citywide since 2001 – more efficient, Mr. Johnson said.

Perhaps bulk waste could be picked up only by request, rather than having trucks drive through neighborhoods weekly looking for it, he said. The same might go for large limbs and trees.

Perhaps the city’s haulers shouldn’t be picking up yard waste at all unless it’s bagged, leaving bigger jobs to private companies which customers could pay separately, he said. Maybe only two tires should be picked up at a time, instead of the current four.

The question is whether the service should be designed around what most people need, or around the exceptions to the rule, which is more costly but might contribute to an overall cleaner city.

“How do you frame the service?” Mr. Johnson said. “Do you frame it around the common need? Not a lot of people cut down trees.”

This year, the trash rate for Augusta’s 60,000 or so customers went up by $9.50 – 79 cents more a month, or a 3.2 percent increase.

The increase is expected to bring in about $570,000 in extra revenue, with $404,000 of that covering an increase in haulers’ cost and the rest meant to chip away at the city’s deficit.

Augusta Disposal & Recycling also works in Columbia County – where trash service is between residents and private haulers – and on its own initiative stopped twice-a-week pickup in Grovetown and in the Ivy Falls, Chamblin Road and North Belair Road areas, according to Contract Administrator Monique Woods.

With more people recycling, households are generating less trash, she said. Driving into those neighborhoods twice per week became a waste of manpower and fuel. In a given area of 100 customers, Ms. Woods said, 75 might only want once-a-week pickup.

“Then it’s not cost-effective to go back in there for the other 25,” she said.

The solution, she said, has been to give those 25 two cans.

Engineering Services chairman Commissioner Jimmy Smith said a workshop on the issue will be held on an undetermined date in November.

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Junket831
0
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Junket831 10/26/09 - 07:09 pm
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I support the 1X per week

I support the 1X per week proposal and to have a flat rate for 1 can and then charge more for additional cans. I appreciate the coverage we have now, but agree that less often will probably work for the majority of us. Maybe solid waste should be picked up 1X per month and not weekly.

Little Lamb
47042
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Little Lamb 10/26/09 - 07:34 pm
0
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Absolutely. Once a week

Absolutely. Once a week pickup would same some money. Pay-as-you-throw is the way to go. Pay for each container on the curb. Some trucks even have scales on the lifting mechanism so you pay by the pound.

downgoesfrazier
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downgoesfrazier 10/26/09 - 07:35 pm
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once a wk = 50% deduct on

once a wk = 50% deduct on solid waste tax bill
good for the goose ...good for the gander

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 10/26/09 - 07:43 pm
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I propose the customer to

I propose the customer to decide and hire who they want to pick up their trash. This is not the city's responsibility. Bowles already has a plan for this.

Rolling Eyes
247
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Rolling Eyes 10/26/09 - 07:49 pm
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We would love to have once a

We would love to have once a week trash pickup. In our area people must bag up their own trash and haul it to a recycling center. Road side pickup sounds like a luxury to us.

crackertroy
540
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crackertroy 10/26/09 - 07:57 pm
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I agree Taylor B, how in the
Unpublished

I agree Taylor B, how in the world do they get away with monopolizing the garbage pickup? I never have figured that one out.

crackertroy
540
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crackertroy 10/26/09 - 08:00 pm
0
0
If they're going to cut the
Unpublished

If they're going to cut the service in half they also need to cut the tax in half. This sounds like a scam to me.

GnipGnop
12467
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GnipGnop 10/26/09 - 08:03 pm
0
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It's a hidden tax that

It's a hidden tax that someone got a kickback for. Do away with it! I had private pickup once a month for about 12 dollars.

pommom38
1496
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pommom38 10/26/09 - 08:24 pm
0
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Unfortunately, this is how

Unfortunately, this is how its always been. If you live in the *city* limits, there is no choice. You pay for the city to collect your trash. Outer limits, then you can choose. This won't change.. It would hurt the city way to much not being able to collect our tax dollars. If I paid a private service to collect trash, the city would still charge me even if they weren't collecting it. Why is this breaking news anyway? People have been telling the city to cut back pick up for years instead of increasing our dang bills!!
Another fine example of elected officials not listening or caring about issues important to those who elected them in the first place.

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 10/26/09 - 08:36 pm
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pom, i dont live in the city

pom, i dont live in the city and i still have pickup. Actually, I pay much more for it than city residents for some reason.

pommom38
1496
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pommom38 10/26/09 - 08:42 pm
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If that's the case, i'd be

If that's the case, i'd be calling them and asking why.. If there excuse is because you're out of the city limits, then YOU should have the choice on trash service provider!

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 10/26/09 - 08:57 pm
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Pom, the Libertarians have

Pom, the Libertarians have been shouting this for a while. I first said this was unfair taxation on Anthony Esposito's show about three months ago. This is taxation, lets be honest. They say its a fee so it doesnt factor in to the cap for millage. A city resident would have to live in a home thats valued at 350,000 bucks to compare to the flat rate county folks pay. This is charged to everyone, whether the house is vacant or not. Lets push to get this privatized. It will give you a choice and recourse if who you choose is lame.

humbleopinion
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humbleopinion 10/26/09 - 08:59 pm
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Having contracts makes sense.

Having contracts makes sense. There are fewer trucks running through neighborhoods on a daily basis. Would the once a week pickup really save that much in fuel costs and exhaust pollution? If people are putting out twice as much garbage, then the trucks will fill faster and need to make a dump run more often. I think having customers call for bulk and lawn debris pickups makes sense as I see the trucks come down my street and have nothing to pick up on a regular basis. That seems to be a waste to me.

dickworth1
954
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dickworth1 10/26/09 - 09:04 pm
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This is an old idea but I
Unpublished

This is an old idea but I support it wholeheartedly. This should
have been done years ago. My only concern is will the savings be given back to the taxpayers, probably not. The city is again wanting to cut services, but not taxes! Watch this very carefully
and see if your taxes go down!

jeffreyd
0
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jeffreyd 10/26/09 - 09:07 pm
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once a week sounds good, but

once a week sounds good, but what about the smell those cans will create during the summer... might want to reconsider once a week pickup in the city during the summer.... the smell could get out of hand... the whole idea needs some serious study..

Taylor B
5
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Taylor B 10/26/09 - 09:24 pm
0
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Advanced Disposal, one of the

Advanced Disposal, one of the companies that is contracted by the city, is owned by AIG Global, a company that was dragged out of the gutter by OUR TAX DOLLARS. If it was my choice, I'd rather deal with a local company, like ACES or any one else. Unfortunately, I am not FREE to do so, due to the county feeling its their duty to choose for me. Where are the REPUBLICANS wanting to tear down our "socialist" trash service?

tazkarz
0
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tazkarz 10/26/09 - 10:15 pm
0
0
we just need to go back to

we just need to go back to private hauler and cut out property tax bills it is to dang high

dashiel
176
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dashiel 10/26/09 - 10:32 pm
0
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What about yard waste? Will

What about yard waste? Will we still have to gift-wrap our leaves?

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
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No_Longer_Amazed 10/26/09 - 11:10 pm
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This is a service that should

This is a service that should not loose money. If ALL property owners were required to pay THE SAME for solid waste pickup the deficit could be eliminated. People who fail to pay their property tax bills, which includes the solid waste fee, should no longer receive the pickup service, just like they would get their water or electricity cut off if those bills are not paid.

creolechick
72
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creolechick 10/26/09 - 11:15 pm
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I think we should have yard

I think we should have yard waste, recycling and regular trash all picked up just once a week. And I want to see the savings in my tax bill. The county sure didn't mind adding it to my bill wihen the cost of trash pickup increased! Truly if you recycle a family of 4 only needs one pickup for reg. trash. Get informed and find out about getting a recycle can. They are as big as the reg. trash can. This is a good opportunity to help the environment.

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 10/27/09 - 02:29 am
0
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Cut the service and cut our

Cut the service and cut our taxes at the same time. Don't cut the service in 1/2 and then just spend the money elsewhere.

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