Mayor Joe Jerkins said the 21 different sanitation companies that handle waste in the city were beginning to cause logistical headaches for the area.
“It was creating problems for us, (with) so many trucks coming in at different times of the day,” Jerkins said of the crowd of companies servicing Austell. “People were complaining about it.”
Jerkins said six to eight garbage trucks pass through some subdivisions at different times throughout a single day, irritating homeowners and backing up traffic.
While the city does handle some waste by selling garbage bags to residents and picking them up from homes every Monday, Jerkins said it plans to discontinue the service when the new company takes over all sanitation.
Duane Demeritt, Austell’s operations manager, said city officials have been working on a solution to the issue for the past three to four months.
“During the budget process, we were looking at the cost of a brand new vehicle,” Demeritt said. “The one that we have has met his useful life.”
Demeritt said the city’s single garbage truck handled all 200 to 225 customers who relied on the government for their sanitation needs.
The cost of replacing the aging truck and continuing the city’s bag service would have netted a loss for taxpayers, Demeritt said. The city shelled out $161,964 to operate its garbage collection service last year, he said — a cost it will not incur after privatization.
If the city continued to offer its service to the relatively few who depend on it for pickup, Demeritt said the city would have to spend between $150,000 and $175,000 on a new truck just to continue the cost-ineffective program.
He said the multitude of trucks that pass through Austell streets every day were causing congestion and “tearing the roads up.”
“We’ve been very diligently working through our SPLOST program, resurfacing our roads,” Demeritt said, adding that the city eventually decided to take “proactive steps” toward improving road conditions over the long term by whittling down the number of sanitation providers to just one.
Jerkins said the city sent letters to the companies operating in Austell requesting they bid on the lowest service price they were able to offer the entire city.
He said the lowest bid came from Republic Services, which offered to pick up residential waste from individual homes for $9.15 per month and recycling for $3.09.
The two items will appear on all residents’ monthly utility bills.
Demeritt said the city will no longer spend money on residential sanitation thanks to the privatization, saying residents will pay their service fees to the city, which will in turn pay the company for providing its services.
“If they charged the company directly, (the price for each resident) would be a slighter increase,” he said.
Republic Services has handled the city’s recycling collection exclusively since 1994, said Randy Bowens, Austell’s public works director.
The City Council approved the privatization of its garbage services through Republic at a meeting July 7.
In a letter to residents set to hit mailboxes this week, Bowens said all residents who use a service provider other than the city for their garbage collection bear the responsibility of canceling their own service before Oct. 1, the day Republic will take over Austell’s sanitation.
Bowens said Republic will deliver new garbage carts to all residents the week of Sept. 22.
Demeritt said a revised ordinance passed Monday will require any residents who don’t intend to use the city’s services and plan instead to dispose of their own garbage must file an affidavit with the Public Works Department by Sept. 26.
“If, at any time, if there is cause to believe that solid waste is not being disposed of in accordance with the affidavit, the Public Works Department will notify the resident in writing of such and solid waste services shall be imposed on to the customer,” he said.
Residents must renew their affidavits each year by Dec. 30 if they want to opt out of the service, he added.
Demeritt said the roughly 2,000 people in need of waste collection throughout the city will see benefits once the service is consolidated.
“We believe it will be a cost savings to the customer,” Demeritt said. “The risk on the roads as far as congestion and tearing up those roads would be reduced. You would be going from 21 companies that currently serve down to just one company.”
Bowens said the city has scheduled a public hearing to provide Austell residents with more information for 6 p.m. on July 29 at the city’s Threadmill Complex off Austell-Powder Springs Road.