A new proposal by an Alabama company for weekly residential and commercial garbage collection in the county is being reviewed by the Board of Supervisors in an effort to further reduce an annual shortfall in the Sanitation Department.
Jeff Martin, general manager of Ingram Equipment Co. of Pelham, Ala., outlined a proposal to supervisors on Monday, which would entail the purchase of two new trucks with automatic handling arms which pick up carts and dumps the household garbage into the back.
After previously reporting yearly shortfalls in the Sanitation Department as high as $150,000, supervisors last year cut the shortfall to $41,411 after raising the monthly collection fee, among other things. That shortfall did not include three months' collections at the lower rates prior to the changes.
Last January, the county increased its monthly garbage fee by $2.50 per household and also eliminated exemptions for new retirees and the newly disabled after Dec. 29, 2011.
About 2,000 households are currently exempt from the monthly fee.
Martin provided supervisors with a county garbage collection assessment, which estimated that his company's proposal would save the county about $5,000 a month if the new trucks were purchased under a lease/payment plan.
However, there would be a $71,500 balloon payment at the end, when supervisors could elect to sell the trucks back to Ingram's.
In addition, the county would have to purchase the necessary garbage carts for each of the 5,735 households at a cost of $61 each or $349,835 total.
"Once that is paid you wouldn't have [that expense] year-to-year," Martin said, noting that the carts had a 10-year warranty.
The county would be responsible for initially distributing the carts to each house.
Ingram's proposal would reduce the number of employees in the Sanitation Department"from six to three as the county currently runs three garbage trucks.
District 1 Supervisor Keith Lillis questioned how overflow garbage placed in bags at the road alongside the carts would be picked up.
Martin said the board would have to adopt a policy to address whether or not bagged garbage outside the cart would be picked up manually.
District 4 Supervisor Kinsey Smith asked how the operator would ensure that no garbage is let in the carts after dumping.
He noted that such things as boxes are often hard to remove from a cart.
Martin said the automated arm on the truck makes a "forceful dump." What's more, he said the trucks were equipped with cameras that could alert the driver that there was still garbage in the cart.
Earlier this year, supervisors rejected a private firm's low bid for weekly residential and commercial garbage collection.
County Administrator Benjie Coats said the county didn't have sufficient revenue to contract the door-to-door garbage pick up because of the more than 2,000 exemptions from the annual fee for elderly and disabled residents.
In addition, the county has some remaining debt on its garbage trucks, officials said.
After Martin's presentation, supervisors said the question always comes back to money.
"No one has won the lottery," he said. "No one has come in and paid the debts. No secret Santa has come."
District 5 Supervisor Obbie Riley also agreed.
"The elephant in the room is still money," he said.