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County commissioner discusses solid waste concerns with city council

Grady County Commissioner LaFaye Copeland, a resident of southwest Cairo, appeared before the Cairo Mayor and Council Monday night to discuss the privatization of the city’s solid waste collection and disposal as well as the enforcement of city ordinances regarding solid waste.
According to Commissioner Copeland, many of the residents of southwest Cairo do not know newly elected Councilman Demario Byrden and, as a result, she is receiving numerous calls and emails from southwest Cairo residents complaining about solid waste issues.
Prior to making her remarks, the county commissioner walked up to the dais and introduced herself to Councilman Byrden and encouraged him to get out in the community and get to know his constituents.
Commissioner Copeland questioned the procedure followed by the city council in privatizing solid waste. She also acknowledged the county is currently considering privatizing its solid waste collection.
Copeland questioned how the city could save money and Taylor Waste Services provide the same service as the city did at the same cost, but yet make money. “People don’t go into business to lose money,” she said.
Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton responded he would not want to contract with a company that was going to lose money because it would not be able to service the citizens of Cairo.
Commissioner Copeland also criticized the wording of a solid waste fact sheet that was direct mailed to all city utilities customers recently.
According to Commissioner Copeland, the fact sheet was confusing and should be revised and published in local and area newspapers.
The county commissioner also voiced objections to the recent announcement that fees charged to city residents for residential garbage pickup was increasing due to the city’s landfill being closed.
Addleton said city officials had said all along that the cost of disposing of solid waste once the city landfill closed would have to increase.
Commissioner Copeland also said Monday night that crews for Taylor Waste do not do as good a job as when city crews picked up the garbage and trash.
“What happens if they go out of business?” she asked the city manager.
Addleton said there were three other firms that offered bids, and noted there are other companies that would be interested in handling the city’s solid waste collection and disposal if Taylor Waste was unable to fulfill its contract.
Copeland was also critical of the city’s decision to enforce existing ordinances and no longer pick up household items placed on the streetside.
The city manager said that previously household items could be taken to the city’s landfill, but no longer. According to Addleton, the city attorney is reviewing existing ordinances and will bring forward recommended revisions.
Since the city will now be forced to transport these household items, such as sofas, chairs, etc., to an out-of-town facility there is an additional cost associated with the service that must be paid for.
The city manager said the city is considering placing some rollout containers at the landfill where household items could be dropped off.
However, Copeland complained that senior citizens could not get household items to the landfill without having to pay someone to take them there. She also noted that the majority of taxes are paid by senior citizens.
Commissioner Copeland also requested city leaders address the amount of trash and debris left or spread around after Taylor Waste crews make their rounds each week. “It’s terrible. I don’t take folks’ word. I go out and see for myself,” she urged.
Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas told Commissioner Copeland that the litter problem was not exclusive to southwest Cairo. He said there is a litter problem all over Cairo.
Councilman Douglas renewed his call for a citywide clean up. He said if Keep Grady Beautiful, which is managed by Celeste Tyler, would organize an event, he predicted there would be many volunteers to pitch in and assist.
“A lot of cities have been doing this. Pick a day and people will volunteer to come help pick up trash. I think you would have a lot of people respond,” Douglas said.
Mayor Booker Gainor agreed and said, “It needs to be done.”
Councilman Lannis Thornton also suggested more aggressive enforcement of antilittering ordinances might also be helpful, but Mayor Gainor said catching the litterers was the difficult part. According to City Clerk Carolyn Lee, there was only one litter case made by city police in all of March.
Councilman Jerry Cox said he agreed with Councilman Thornton and he also suggested increasing the fines for littering. Cox also said if there were issues with litter being spread or not picked up, then those issues needed to be addressed with Taylor Waste Services.
The city manager said that Taylor Waste Services had gone “over and above” what was required of them and he contended the service was actually better than what the city had provided, and for less overall, for the city.

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