Private company still working out garbage pick up

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, April 7, 2004

Pick up times and accurate house count information was the focusTuesday as city leaders and Waste Management officials discussedcitizens’ complaints about the new private garbage service.

“We’ve had a lot of calls about missed garbage, missed streetssince you’ve taken over,” Mayor Pro Tem Terry Bates told garbageofficials, although he did not have an exact number ofcomplaints.

Waste Management has been handling garbage pick up since March1.

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Buford Clark and Jim Funderburg, with Waste Management, said thecompany is still adjusting to routes and equipment needed for theservice.

“There will be adjustments over the first few months until weget extremely proficient,” Clark said.

Funderburg said the company is using one primary truck and asecondary truck for garbage collection. He said there may need tobe some adjustment in the routes due to the volume of garbage onMondays and Tuesdays.

“It’s a tremendous amount of garbage that’s put out on the firsttwo days,” Funderburg said.

While citizens are asked to have garbage out by 7 a.m., aldermencited some instances where it was not picked up until 8 p.m.

Clark acknowledged that 8 p.m. was too late, but added thatcrews can work 10-12 hours to pick up garbage. He promisedimprovement in collection efforts.

“It’s going to get better, or we’ll add a truck,” said Clark,adding that citizens can call 1-866-261-0482 to report missed pickup.

Also, city and garbage company officials will soon have todetermine a more accurate house count on which the company willcharge the city for service.

Currently, the city is being billed $9.95 for each of 3,100households, but Waste Management officials said the company isactually picking up garbage at 3,750 homes. A new house countnumber is expected to be ready by May 1.

Jennifer Peets, billing clerk for the city water department,said the city is currently sending out 3,532 water bills a month.She cited several instances inside the city and outside wherecustomers are receiving garbage service but are not getting a waterbill.

Peets said the city has 270 vacant homes, of which 157 have beenthat way for two years or more. Clark said Waste Management’ssurvey, based on home appearance and pick up activity, showed 67vacant homes.

Ward Four Alderman Bob Massengill said the city and WasteManagement will have to address the vacant home issue and determinea fair number of homes for billing purposes.

“We’re going to agree to some number less than 3,750,” Clarksaid.

Another factor will be units in the Brookhaven HousingAuthority. Under a board policy approved years ago, Peets said theauthority counts the number of vacancies each month and the citygives them a credit, which averages out to be about $630.

“We’re still going to have to pay for those whether they’revacant or not,” said Peets.

Clark said he believed the city was making a concession it didnot have to make regarding the housing authority. He said theauthority receives federal funding and could pay its bills.

“He’s getting a pretty good deal,” Clark said.