What was turning into a battle over garbage collection methods in the city of Starkville came to an abrupt cease-fire Tuesday night when the city”s Board of Aldermen chose to maintain the existing bagged garbage pick-up system and abandon a proposal to switch to wheeled carts.
Ward 3 Alderman Eric Parker wanted the city to advertise for bids from companies which could supply the city with at least 10,000 96-gallon carts or bins, plus replacements, in which residents and businesses would place their garbage for collection by the Sanitation Department. Mixed public reaction, however, coupled with skepticism by several board members Tuesday caused Parker to abandon the cart proposal, he said after the meeting.
Parker let the issue die without making a motion and the board subsequently approved a bid from Lawrenceburg, Tenn.-based Dyna Pak to purchase garbage bags at a cost of $4.19 per roll for distribution to city residents.
“It was the will of the board,” Parker said when asked why he didn”t push forward with his proposal to switch from the existing bagged garbage collection system to carts or bins.
Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver, Ward 6 Aldermen Roy A. Perkins and Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn Sr. spoke out against the proposed change.
Carver said he received calls from several constituents and not one was in favor of a cart system. Perkins reiterated his position from two weeks ago, when Parker first introduced the proposal, that the city”s present method for garbage collection “is not broke and, therefore, does not need fixing.”
Vaughn criticized the board for trying to adopt ideas and plans, such as the cart proposal, from other municipalities instead of concentrating on the needs of Starkville”s residents.
“It seems like every time we go somewhere and see something, we have to try it,” Vaughn said.
Although Parker only wanted the board to advertise for bids to obtain more concrete numbers on potential cart costs, the possibility of a change drew fire from several residents during the public comment portion of the meeting.
Jim Mills said he owns property in the city and Oktibbeha County, where garbage bins are prevalent, and the bins in the county frequently end up in the roads and present hazards to drivers.
“I am constantly chasing those garbage Dumpsters,” he said.
Resident Wayne Fondren shared sentiments similar to Perkins and said he thinks the Sanitation Department”s pick-up method is functioning fine as-is.
“If it”s not broke, then leave it alone,” Fondren said.
According to preliminary numbers provided by Parker, the city could save nearly $600,000 in the next 10 years by switching from bags to bins. Additionally, the bins would be safer than bags, Parker said, because broken glass and sharp objects have stuck through bags in the past and injured Sanitation Department workers. The city has paid approximately $180,000 in workers compensation claims in the past three years to Sanitation Department employees, Parker said, though it is unclear how many of those injuries were related to garbage pick-up.
“I”m not trying to do anything new and innovative here,” Parker said. “I just thought this is something we could do to produce some savings and create a safer work environment for our employees.”
“We just had a tax increase this year,” he added. “I voted against a tax increase and I felt obligated to try to find ways to save money in this city.”
Parker had the support of Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas, who said he already uses a cart for garbage at his home.
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