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City dumping garbage pick up for businesses

Brookhaven aldermen voted Tuesday to discontinue commercialgarbage pick up service, meaning businesses and similarestablishments will have to find alternate means of disposal beforeFeb. 1.

The surprise action, approved 5-2, comes after months of thecity losing money in the solid waste department. In October, thefirst month of the city’s new fiscal year, the operation lost over$33,000.

“It was at a point we had to do something. That was the lesserof the evils as we saw it,” said Ward 5 Alderman Tom Smith, amember of a board subcommittee that recommended the change.

Alderman-at-large Les Bumgarner and Ward 3 Alderman the Rev.Jerry L. Wilson voted against the action. Bumgarner expressedconcerns about the sight of dumpsters located around the city andsaid more discussion was needed.

“I just have a lot of questions whether that’s the best thing todo,” said Bumgarner, a downtown business owner.

Mayor Bill Godbold said the committee, made up of Smith, Ward 4Alderman Bob Massengill and Ward 6 Alderman John E. “Buddy” Allen,had worked with Sanitation Department Superintendent James Arnoldfor two days on the commercial garbage recommendation.

“This is what they came up with. I think we ought to respectit,” Godbold said.

Arnold said the city would stop picking up garbage at businessesat the end of January.

Officials said private companies like Waste Management and BFIcan provide garbage pick up and disposal service. One ideamentioned was several businesses banning together to get a dumpsterfor garbage disposal.

The city has been losing money on the commercial side of itsgarbage services. Godbold said businesses would accuse the city oflying if rates were raised enough to cover expenses.

Massengill cited one business that paid the city $125 a monthfor garbage service, yet it cost the city $700 to dispose of thegarbage from that establishment. Officials were looking at revisingcommercial rates to develop a more equitable fee schedule based ongarbage generated, but Massengill said individual billing was notpossible.

“You can’t pick and choose. Everybody in the same category,you’ve got to charge the same rate,” he said.

Another action approved last night was asking residents to bagpine straw, yard clippings and similar items.

Arnold said the bags are to weigh no more than 45 pounds, andtree limbs put out for disposal are to be no longer than threefeet. The bagging-related changes would allow crews to handle thoseitems more efficiently.

“We aren’t trying to cause hardships on anyone, but we must makesome hard decisions,” Massengill said.

Godbold said the changes would allow the city to concentrateefforts on residential garbage pick up. Officials were unable tosay last night if residential services alone would be enough tomake the solid waste operation self-supporting.

“We’re going to continue to look at that,” Massengill said. “Wehope that it will be, and the department will be back on soundfooting.”

In a related matter, aldermen agreed to hire two employees forthe solid waste department. Both men will be truck drivers.

In other personnel matters, aldermen went into executive sessionto discuss pay raises for employees in the fire and waterdepartments and a recreation department hiring decision.

Following the closed discussion, the board approved step raisesfor two firefighters in the second year with the department andother pay raises for two water department office employees.

Aldermen rejected the rehiring of an assistant recreationdepartment director. City officials did not elaborate on thesituation, saying it was a personnel matter.