City may reduce trash pick-up

Published 8:38 pm Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Bainbridge residents may soon have to get used to rolling out their garbage cans to the street just once per week, if the city’s government goes ahead with a proposed cost-savings plan.

Speaking before the Bainbridge City Council Tuesday evening, City Manager Chris Hobby proposed reducing the city’s trash pick-up days from two to just one, beginning in March.

Trash pick-up fees for both commercial and residential customers would stay the same. While Hobby said he believes more than 90 percent of customers only put out their trash can one day per week, customers would be given an option to pay for a second garbage can for an estimated cost of about $10 more per month.

A less noticeable cost-savings measure proposed by Hobby would be to reduce the staff of its Solid Waste Department from 16 to 10. Six employees would remain employed with the city but be transferred into other departments, Hobby said.

While the plan could go ahead without a vote from the City Council, Mayor Mark Harrell said he would welcome citizen input on the idea during the next few weeks. Citizens could come to council meetings scheduled on Jan. 20, Feb. 10 or Feb. 24, contact a City Council member or call City Hall, Harrell said.

Hobby made the proposal after he and other city officials reviewed bids it had requested from private companies interested in taking over the city’s garbage pickup. The service is currently ran using an enterprise fund that lost about $155,000 last year. Hobby said it was determined that the city could possibly still lose money through a five-year contract with the company that submitted the low bid. Any possible revenue gain would be dependent on the company’s promised use of the city’s shop to maintain garbage trucks, an unknown factor, Hobby said.

Without doing something to cut costs, the city could lose an estimated $1.2 million over five years, the city manager said.

The only other option the City of Bainbridge could take to maintain two trash pick-up days and not lose money would be to raise customers’ rates by about $4 per month. Hobby said he didn’t believe it would be right to raise rates in the current economic downturn.

Responding to a potential customer complaint about why fewer trash pick-up days would not result in lower bills, Hobby said operating costs would largely remain the same, as he predicted the same amount of garbage will continue to go be taken to the county landfill.