Kennesaw residents will likely see an increase in the cost of trash pickup this fall when the current contract with Republic Services ends.
Republic, which has had an agreement with the city since 2013, has submitted a request to increase the monthly cost per household from $14.46 to $16.58. The increase is based on the consumer price index increase and the passage of HB 792, which increased surcharges for municipal solid waste facilities.
Public Works Director Ricky Stewart recommended the council approve the amendment to the contract at this week’s work session. Assistant City Manager Marty Hughes agreed, explaining that they did comparisons to other similar-sized cities and found prices from $16.52 to $23.95.
“We believe, based upon what Republic has given, that it is a very competitive rate ... one aspect that people don’t realize is that there is a high number of mergers going on in the industry itself so there is less competition,” Hughes said.
Hughes also mentioned China no longer accepting recycling material from the United States as another driver of rising costs in sanitation collection.
Council member David Blinkhorn pushed back on the size of the increase and suggested adding terminology to the agreement to cap annual increases.
“Our goal is to protect the city’s money, and the way the contract is written, it’s not protecting the city’s money when it says we’re going to use this index (CPI), but all this other stuff comes into play,” Blinkhorn said.
The council will vote whether to approve the contract next week, after the public works department attempts a final negotiation.
In other business:
♦ City Manager Jeff Drobney announced Kennesaw’s budget will be available by Wednesday and the first budget work session will take place on July 22 at 6 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers.
♦ Drobney also introduced what he called “very preliminary” suggestions for the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax that would begin in 2022 if approved by voters. He is still waiting to hear from the county about road or joint projects, which would affect those decisions.
His list of priorities include the Depot Park Amphitheatre, phase II of the recreation center, upgrades to city facilities, a light at Swift-Cantrell Park, and public safety facilities.
“Public safety is a priority for us. Looking at the facility, they’re on top of one another. There’s no training facility. We’ve got vehicles parked everywhere,” Drobney said.
♦ The council ratified the actions by the license review board at the due cause hearings for two stores caught selling alcohol to minors. Cherokee Food Mart, located at 3326 Cherokee Street NW, and RK Market, at 3338 Cherokee Street NW, both received two-week suspensions and must present alcohol/tobacco training manuals specific to the stores. All employees must undergo outside alcohol training from a reputable company. They have four weeks to provide proof of training, or face an additional four weeks of suspension. If they have not complied by then, licenses will be pulled.
♦ At last week’s council meeting, Kennesaw Police Chief Bill Westenberger delivered the May crime statistics, which reflected issues noted throughout Cobb with criminals entering unlocked cars. There were 50 incidents of larceny in May, 21 more than in April, and eight more than May of last year.
Cobb County police officials met with west Cobb residents just last month over the rash of break-ins to unlocked cars.
Westenberger says officers are seeing the same thing in Kennesaw. Thieves are targeting cars that have been left unlocked by their owners, typically at night and mostly in residential areas. They have seen the issue move across the city and through all the communities.
“A lot of the departments, whether it’s here in Cobb or outside, if we see a connection point, we’re working together to try to tie some of these cases together and we have been successful in the recent past,” Westenberger told the MDJ.