The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors appears ready to end its relationship with Golden Triangle Waste Services after board members voted to look at three waste management companies that submitted bids during a lengthy meeting on Monday.
However, the county will have to wait to make a final decision because companies must submit bids again. The board unanimously voted to reject the bids it has already received and to re-bid for waste services.
After the vote, Trainer said GTWS could re-bid, if it desires. Otherwise, the county will have to provide a 90-day notice period before ending its relationship with the company.
Golden Triangle Waste Services was formed in 1997 to provide garbage pickup for Oktibbeha, Lowndes and Webster counties, and supervisors from the three counties serve on the GTWS board. The company also provides services to Choctaw County and the cities of Columbus, Eupora and Mathiston.
Monday’s decisions came after Golden Triangle Waste Services representatives, including board members Harry Sanders and John Holliman, and General Manager Betty Farmer, went before supervisors in an attempt to resolve the county’s issue with the waste management company. Sanders is the president of the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors and John Holliman represents that county’s District 3.
The attempt proved unsuccessful, as discussion dissolved into sometimes-heated arguing about GTWS’s handling of providing new garbage cans to Oktibbeha County.
Some Oktibbeha County supervisors, such as District 1’s John Montgomery, contended GTWS has done a poor job managing requests for new cans for Oktibbeha County residents.
Sanders said the city of Columbus and Lowndes County have a combined 27,000 customers. He said GTWS doesn’t furnish cans to the customers.
“Every now and then a dog will get out there and tear up a garbage can or a garbage bag or something, and we’ll have to go out there and pick it up. But other than that there’s not a complaint,” Sanders said. “I talked to Joe (Williams, Oktibbeha District 5 supervisor) and John (Montgomery) and the Webster County folks and said, ‘Why in the world are y’all furnishing carts to everybody?’ It’s political — so you can get re-elected and get your customers’ OK and say ‘Look what we’re doing for you.'”
Williams said he felt GTWS had a general insensitivity to the needs of Oktibbeha County supervisors and their constituents.
Sanders questioned how Williams would know enough to make his claim.
“You’ve been to two meetings in two years,” Sanders said.
Williams contended he felt the GTWS board plans things out “in advance.”
“I’m afraid that the meeting is kind of one-sided in a way, that everything is kind of planned out in advance,” Williams said. “… I start thinking that there’s no need to come because everything is already planned out in terms of how things are going to be done. Where is my vote?”
Holliman said the board could have addressed Williams’ concerns if he came to meetings.
As discussion dragged on, Sanders said he felt the biggest issue between Oktibbeha County and GTWS was a personality conflict.
Montgomery said there’s more to it than that, but personality issues do arise when GTWS doesn’t properly respond to Oktibbeha County’s requests.
“The personality conflict comes when we ask for some simple thing and it’s made trite,” Montgomery said. “The conflict is when we have a problem, it’s a problem.”
‘We should give it another shot’
After the meeting with GTWS concluded, Oktibbeha’s District 3 Supervisor Marvel Howard said he felt that, in terms of operational issues, GTWS and Oktibbeha County weren’t that far apart. He said he felt the personality conflicts could be resolved.
“Yeah, we’ve had some issues, but I think those issues can be solved,” he said. “I think a couple of those issues would arise (regardless of) whoever we have as a garbage collector. My opinion is we own a third of (GTWS) and we should give it another shot.”
However, Montgomery and District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller indicated they were ready to move on from GTWS. The board voted 3-2, with Williams joining Miller and Montgomery, in favor of looking at the other companies. Howard and Board President Orlando Trainer opposed.
The board then voted to reject the prior bids and re-bid for waste services.
The decision came in the light of Waste Management, one of three companies to submit bids to the county, including recycling services in a presentation on Feb. 19, when such services were not originally included in the company’s original bid. County Administrator Emily Garrard told the board they would need to re-bid due to the change.
Oktibbeha County also received bids from Arrow Disposal Services, Inc. and WastePro.
Alex Holloway was formerly a reporter with The Dispatch.
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