Cooperation needed to fix solid waste woes

Published 6:00 am Monday, January 27, 2003

Brookhaven officials took more steps last week in what they hopewill be solution to the city’s solid waste woes.

Only time will tell whether the city is able to get operations”back up to snuff,” as Mayor Bill Godbold said, and continuecity-run garbage and trash services. If the problems worsen, thecity could be forced to move toward privatization.

City fathers deserve credit for finally attempting to tacklethis tough issue and for taking steps to rein in an “out ofcontrol” city work force. Citizens are to be commended for gettinginvolved, too. Several were on the agenda at Tuesday’s boardmeeting to discuss trash and garbage related concerns.

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Officials hope the solid waste reorganization plan they adoptedlast week will produce improvements within 45 days. The planseparates the department into two units: one to pick up garbage,and one to pick up trash. It divides the city into four areas fortrash collection on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.Garbage will be picked up on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays andFridays.

City officials, sanitation department workers and residents,regardless of the ward in which they live, will play a role in thesalvation of the city’s garbage and trash services.

Residents have a right to voice their displeasure when they seetheir tax money essentially being wasted by slacking cityemployees. Those concerns should be addressed through a newpersonnel policy handbook that is being developed. City employeeswill have no excuse for not knowing the rules, and they must followthem.

City officials are correct when they say residents should bewilling to take some of the responsibility for disposing of theirwaste. While aldermen voted to temporarily lift a requirement thatleaves and pine straw be bagged, they still encourage the practice.No, you don’t have to bag leaves and pine straw, but if you’reable, why not do it?

Also, citizens should get items they want picked up out to thecurb on time. Garbage, such as food and other household wasteitems, should not be mixed in with trash, or items such as leaves,tree limbs, pine straw and other yard waste.

The trash collection changes, improved worker efficiency andcitizen cooperation have the potential to go a long way towardproviding an acceptable level of service.

Last week’s city board action does nothing to address concernsof commercial customers who will be looking to private services forsolid waste disposal at the end of the month. Some city officialswould like to continue serving those customers, but finding a wayto do that remains elusive.

One thing seems clear at this point.

If the upcoming changes fail, it could mean the end of city-runservices, period. The resulting alternative will mean someunpleasant times and periods of adjustment for both city fathersand their constituents.