Board finds no solution to solid waste problem

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Brookhaven leaders continue to study a struggling solid wastesituation after questions arose Tuesday night over a new commercialgarbage pick up proposal that would more than double somecustomers’ rates.

In starting the discussion, Sanitation Department SuperintendentJames Arnold said the city was “going under” because of itscommercial pick up services. The new rate schedule was designed toaddress that.

“People that don’t want it can get a private company to pick uptheir garbage,” Arnold said.

There was some question, though, whether the new rates wouldaccomplish their goal.

“There’s some on here that’s still too low for what we’re havingto do with it,” said Ward 5 Alderman Tom Smith.

Alderman at large Les Bumgarner said rates should be based theamount of garbage pick up required and not on the size of acustomer’s building. He said he would like to “put the rates wherethe garbage is.”

“If you’re using a lot more, you ought to pay more,” Bumgarnersaid.

Ward 4 Alderman Bob Massengill questioned how much the new rateswould actually help. He wondered whether they would be merely astop-gap that would leave the city in a similar situationlater.

The alderman quoted solid waste consultant Butch Lambert’srecommendations for addressing the city situation. Those includereworking the city’s garbage pick up routes, cutting departmentstaff from the current 28 employees down to four to six, purchasingnew equipment and picking up all garbage at once instead ofseparate services for garbage and rubbish.

During the discussion, aldermen lamented a lack of publiceducation and awareness about trash and garbage differences.

Trash includes leaves, limbs and similar items, while garbage isdisposable household materials. Trash can be taken to the city’srubbish field, but any trash mixed with garbage is consideredgarbage and must be taken to the transfer station and laterdisposed at an approved landfill.

Ward 1 Alderman Dorsey Cameron said citizens were “spoiled”because the city has picked up piles regardless of theircomposition.

Officials also pointed out their limited options for paying forgarbage services. Those options include a four-mill levy onproperty taxes and a $12 a month residential fee that was raisedfrom $9.50 a month at budget time last year.

City Clerk Iris Rudman said personnel expenses, and not tippingfees for garbage disposal at an approved landfill, were the majorcosts in the operation. She said tipping fees will have to be paidregardless of personnel levels.

With at least the possibility of a personnel reduction, Ward 3Alderman the Rev. Jerry L. Wilson suggested letting sanitationdepartment employees apply for other city jobs, such as in the firedepartment. Other officials doubted sanitation workerqualifications for fire department employment, but said they areallowed to seek work in other city departments.

Aldermen did not act on the new commercial solid wasteschedule.

“If it doesn’t work, we’ve just got to do something else,” saidMayor Bill Godbold.

Although officials have expressed a desire to keep residentialpick up service, Godbold indicated the city is one step away fromprivatization. Cameron said he would favor that move.

“If this doesn’t work, we’re just going to have to advertise forsomebody to pick it all up,” Godbold said.