County considers curbside garbage pick up

After a failed attempt at a previous work session, Grady County commissioners on Tuesday managed to discuss possible options regarding the future of the county’s solid waste collection and disposal service.
A number of options were batted around by commissioners including the possibility of going to a curbside collection system, which is currently being offered in Colquitt, Brooks, Decatur, Seminole and Worth counties. Monthly fees range $14 to $20 per month.
“If we require curbside pick up and it is done by a third party, that $400,000 in the budget for solid waste collection would go away,” County Administrator Rusty Moye said during the discussions Tuesday morning.
Chairman Bobby Burns observed, “That’s a 3/4 mill reduction off property taxes right there.”
However, Dist. 3 County Commissioner Charles Norton voiced opposition to a curbside pick up system.
“It may be a savings to the county, but not to the taxpayers, who would have to pay that monthly fee for curbside pick up,” Norton said.
Norton estimated that the tax savings would be anywhere from $10 to $12 a year, and those savings would be eaten up by one month’s fee for curbside garbage pick up.
Dist. 2 Commissioner Charles Renaud, who initiated the discussions on solid waste options, suggested there are other options other than just curbside pick up that the county could investigate.
Renaud suggested one option would be to consolidate the 38 existing dumpster sites down to possibly two manned sites and have curbside pick up as an option to those who wanted it.
“This way, the people who would rather carry off their own trash could do so, and those who wanted curbside pick up would have that available to them. With the sites being manned, the problem of noncounty residents dumping garbage into the county dumpsters would come to a halt,” Renaud said.
“I’m not here to save the county money, I’m here to save the taxpayers money,” Norton said.
Renaud pointed out that the residents of Cairo support the solid waste program by paying city taxes but do not benefit from the county’s solid waste program.
The county administrator estimates the cost to the county to man dumpster sites to be approximately $30,000 annually based on a 6 1/2 day per week operating schedule.
Moye said that the cost to develop a site could be reduced by not doing as much paving as was done by the county at its lone manned site on 20th St. S.E.
Unless the county shifts to curbside pick up Moye says the county will still have tipping fees to budget for and maintenance and operation of two garbage trucks. The county administrator also reminded commissioners that unless a change is made, he would likely have to budget about $200,000 in the 2010 operating budget for a new garbage truck.
“The most attractive option is to go to curbside pick up. That would take $400,000 out  of the budget and property owners are going to see a decrease in the millage rate,” Moye said. However, he said if the county requires curbside pick up but does not roll back the millage, that would anger taxpayers.
Ball warned against commissioners inflating the costs involved in curbside pick up. “I know there are strong feelings and concerns about the cost to the individual tax payer, but  I think we’re exaggerating the costs.”
The vice chairman encouraged the board to schedule another meeting to discuss the issue further.
Commissioner Norton called for a public hearing, but the administrator said the board needed to do “a lot more talking” and have a plan in place before scheduling a meeting.
Moye also said that a number of third-party contractors would be interested in bidding for the garbage collection service in Grady County.
Commissioner Renaud went further to suggest Moye calculate the budget impact for a number of options for the commission to review at a future meeting.

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