Oktibbeha County’s relationship with Golden Triangle Waste Management is again under scrutiny after two county supervisors claim some residents are waiting weeks to get their garbage collected.
District 4 Supervisor Bricklee Miller told The Dispatch on Monday several of her constituents are not receiving the consistent services for which they are paying. Many residents complained to her that rural areas of the district will be skipped over weeks at a time, causing trash to continuously pile up, she said.
“A county supervisor never knows things like this happen until a citizen calls,” Miller said. “A lot of times, the citizen does not realize if they have trash service on a Friday and (are skipped over), they won’t get their trash picked up again until next Tuesday.”
District 1 Supervisor John Montgomery said he has seen sections of particular roads in his district that have also been passed over. Once instances like these occur, the supervisors contact the waste management board to address the issue. Miller said typically those areas are not missed again.
Along with skipped routes, Oktibbeha County has run out of its allotted number of trash cans for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
Montgomery said the county receives roughly 600 cans for residents who utilize trash services and cannot obtain anymore for the year once they are all distributed to residents.
“One week, I had to take nine cans out because so many of them get torn up in the hot or cold weather,” Montgomery said. “That was just in my district. If you do the math, that’s not enough cans.”
Miller said she has also received complaints about garbage truck drivers taking away trash cans or crushing them altogether for no apparent reason. Because of the lack of cans, residents are unable to receive a new can and must purchase one or place their garbage bags outside without a can and hope garbage trucks will still pick it up.
“I’ve gotten several requests just this week,” Miller said. “The requests have all stated ‘My trash can wasn’t but two years old. There was nothing wrong with it. I don’t understand why they took my trash can and crushed it.’”
Montgomery said like many businesses and agencies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, waste management is tackling employment issues, which could be partially why these problems transpired.
‘I have nothing to say’
Oktibbeha County has contracted with Golden Triangle Solid Waste Management since it formed in 1997. The authority performs services for multiple counties and municipalities within the Golden Triangle.
Waste management serves 8,446 Oktibbeha County residents who pay $13 each month for garbage pickup. It also serves Lowndes and Webster counties.
The county pays roughly $73,000 per month to be part of the authority.
Supervisors’ attorney Rob Roberson said the authority board, consisting of two supervisors from each county, oversees the waste management program.
“If there is a problem, the problem is supposed to go through the board, and the board is supposed to address these problems,” Roberson said.
The Dispatch contacted waste management manager Mary Ann Gilliland to inquire about these recurring issues and the steps the operation is taking to solve them, but she refused to answer the questions and abruptly hung up on the reporter.
“If Bricklee Miller and John Montgomery are the ones contacting you, I have nothing to say,” Gilliland said. “They can contact me if they have something (to say).”
Supervisor Joe Williams, who represents District 5, serves on the waste management board along with District 3 Supervisor Marvell Howard.
While Williams has not seen any direct issues in his district, he said he is concerned about the shortage of trash cans. Because August is the busiest month of the year due to several individuals moving to Oktibbeha County to attend Mississippi State University, he said he wishes the county could receive more cans per year.
“We’re not going to be able to get additional cans until the first of October,” Williams said. “We’re asking residents of Oktibbeha County to wait until the first of October to get trash cans unless we can locate some before then.”
‘We went back to this service in hopes that the service would get better’
This is not the first time Oktibbeha County has seen issues arise with trash pickup. The board discussed contracting with a private company three years ago but ultimately decided to stay with waste management.
Miller said she would be open to researching other entities if citizens continue to not receive adequate service.
“We went back to this service in hopes that the service would get better,” Miller said. “I understand that they’re having employment issues, like all businesses are having, but I do question — this is our second round of questioning the service that the citizens are receiving — that we should not address that again.”
Roberson said the county invests into waste management and pays a lower cost for services in return. If the board were to decide to leave and contract a private company, the investment would be lost.
“The issue we have as a county, though, is if we leave that board, in other words if we decide to get out of it, we will lose whatever interest we have in it,” Roberson said. “It’s not like we can go back and get in it again. Once you’re out, you’re out.”