By Tia Lynn Ivey
As prices continue to rise each year to dispose of county residents’s trash, county leaders mull over alternative to revamp the overloaded sanitation system.
“Anything we do to change it is going to be costly, but the system now is costly and ineffective,” said County Manager Adam Mestres to the Morgan County Board of Commissioners (BOC) at the last regular meeting on July 2. “Right now we are spending almost three-quarters of a million dollars a year on our sanitation system.”
In recent years, the county has debated the issue before, but has yet to be able to settle on a solution due. Now that the county just renewed its contract with Republic Services for another year to haul trash from the county’s transfer station to the landfill, the issue has emerged again. According to Mark Williams, the cost to contract with Republic Services has risen again.
“We are now going to pay $38.45 per ton of trash. That’s up from $36.97 per ton of trash,” said Williams.
But rising costs are not the only issue with the county’s current sanitation system, which consists of unmanned dumping sites throughout the county. According to Mestres, the push for a change is also due to the current’s system inefficiency, which is resulting in overflowing trash at many of the county’s dumping sites and time-consuming sorting procedures for county staff. County officials have researched two solutions, either switching to curbside pickup, which would cost county residents a monthly fee, or opening new manned “convenience centers” around the county to oversee the dumping process and possibly handling more kinds of refuse.
“We are leaning toward manned convenience centers,” said Williams. “This would however probably reduce the number of dumping sites around the county. But we would hope that at each of the sites that we could take more stuff—household garbage as well as bulkier items, such as appliances, furniture and tree limbs. We would like to accommodate different types of waste at fewer locations.”
“The potential downside to curbside is that there could be a monthly fee to the resident,” said Mestres. “But it would be an enhanced service that would allow residents to take their household trash right to the end of their driveway.”
The county currently has 13 unmanned dumping stations throughout the county designed to handle household waste from county residents. However, dump sites are regularly overloaded with improperly sorted trash and recycling, as well as banned items such as mattresses, box springs, large appliances, electronics, construction materials, and tree limbs. None of those heavy duty trash items are allowed at the county dump sites.
“On a daily basis, the majority of our dumping sites receive more waste than what they were designed to handle,” said Mestres in a previous interview. “Those kind of non-residential waste items should be taken directly to the transfer station on Athens Highway, not the dumping stations… Anybody who utilizes the current dump sites would notice that there are typically excess trash, its either overflowing, there is excess trash on the ground, bags get ripped open by animals, which then gets scattered along the roadways in the county. Plus, it creates a lot of additional staff time because we are touching trash multiple times before it reaches its final destination, that’s one of the larger downfalls of the current system.”
County staff is currently researching which solution would be most efficient and cost effective.
“We want to provide our citizens with the top-notch services they deserve while balancing the cost and ensuring an efficient system for our staff and the public,” said Mestres.