PTC moves closer to single trash franchise

Tue, 08/07/2007 - 4:46pm
By: John Munford

Armed with at least some feedback from city residents, the Peachtree City Council has decided to explore the possibility of choosing one privately owned garbage company to serve the entire city.

City staff have suggested the franchise effort in a bid to improve service and significantly reduce the number of garbage trucks on the streets, which adds to wear and tear on the roads. They also hope to provide a cost savings for residents, but the flip side is that residents would no longer be able to choose their own trash provider.

If the city goes with a franchise agreement, the only other choice for residents will be for them to take their own garbage to the dump, city officials said. The agreement, if ultimately approved, would only allow one provider to serve the entire city.

Of four trash companies operating in the city, only Allsouth Robertson offers twice-weekly trash pickup and only CLM offers recycling to new customers, according to deputy city clerk Betsy Tyler. CLM is also the only company that accepts yard debris, she added.

The city undertook a survey on garbage pickup services with 82 respondents by Thursday’s City Council meeting. Tyler said that of the 82 surveys, 62 percent of respondents said they wanted the city to look at contracting with one company to lower fees and increase services, while 32 percent said no. Another 6 percent said they didn’t know.

Some of the services most highly sought after by respondents to the survey included twice-weekly pickup, recycling and the pickup of yard debris, Tyler noted.

The city also asked respondents to rate their satisfaction with their current provider. Allied Waste was the only company to receive any fair or poor rankings, as all three other companies had only excellent or good ratings.

Some 48.8 percent of Allied customers rated service as fair (32.56 percent) or poor (16.28 percent), according to the survey.

Councilman Stuart Kourajian said although he initially rebuffed the idea when it was brought up over a year and a half ago because he believes strongly in the free market system, he now thinks it’s worth looking into. It would get a lot of trucks off the city streets, he added.

Mayor Harold Logsdon said any single-provider deal would have to be “a good deal for citizens and a good deal for the city.”

Councilwoman Cyndi Plunkett said she could go along with a single-provider contract “only if there is a significant savings.”

City Manager Bernie McMullen said when the city experiences a problem such as debris littering the roadway, it’s almost impossible to tell which company is at fault. Any single-provider contract would have a provision for liquidated damages in case of poor performance, McMullen said.

Council was also provided with a four-page list of additional comments from citizens who responded on the garbage survey, many of whom strongly favored allowing the current system of allowing providers to compete for services instead of “creating a monopoly.”

Several citizens commented that the city’s cable franchise with Comcast hasn’t worked out well, so they were dubious about the potential success with a trash franchise system. Yet others were optimistic about the potential benefits as long as the city uses caution when selecting the provider.

Among other complaints in those comments were companies not picking up trash on time and trash cans being out constantly because providers pick up trash on different days.

Council agreed by consensus to have staff prepare a proposed contract before proceeding further with the issue.

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