Reject single provider and expect your bill to go up

Tue, 11/11/2008 - 4:28pm
By: Letters to the ...

Peachtree City, you may soon think your garbage bill stinks.

There has been much debate and difference of opinion regarding Peachtree City Council’s consideration of an exclusive, city-wide, municipal, residential garbage service.

In the latest city newsletter, our mayor has outlined some of the arguments in favor of municipal service and government involvement.

Some publicly, and ignorantly, discount the mayor’s understanding of the waste industry and how it can be leveraged to our individual advantage.

Many of our neighboring cities, such as Newnan, Tyrone, Fairburn, Riverdale, and McDonough, have such municipal service currently in place.

Perhaps the governments of these municipalities, along with those across America, and those in most every significant market in Florida, are equally, and ignorantly, willing to repeal both the free market and the laws of physics.

Or perhaps they have gained the same understanding, and learning, of the garbage service issue and leveraged that understanding to their citizens’ benefit.

There are more than a few who very vocally oppose the municipal service option. They argue, essentially, that the status quo is not broke, and does not need to be fixed.

Yet, there is much that these, and many, Peachtree City citizens may not know about their garbage service, and service provider. The two largest providers of residential service in our city, accounting for service to some 90-plus percent of the city’s residential market, are planning to merge, thereby creating, essentially, a monopoly market position.

The remaining service providers are small local operators, with relatively limited economies, vertical integration, and financial strength. And these local players rely on the landfill owned by the soon-to-be “monopoly” provider.

Finally, the largest waste provider in metro Atlanta (and the U.S.) does not deliver residential service within the city (although it does service many of our local businesses) and has no intentions of doing so, unless enticed by an exclusive, municipal contract opportunity.

What does this all mean for the residents of Peachtree City? We need, and even want, our government leaders to manage our city proactively, and not sit on their collective hands until the house falls down around us.

Have the recent failures in oversight of, and management by, Fannie May and Freddie Mac, combined with the ignorance of greed on Wall Street, not taught us anything? Some of our financial and government leaders warned years ago about the pending collapse, but ignorance was bliss, home ownership was on the rise, and money was being made. At the time there were no obvious economic difficulties in sight.

In fact, too many believed all was A-OK, and the critics surely must simply be playing politics, or making unfounded theories of conspiracy to serve their egos and personal aspirations.

So, admittedly, municipal garbage service for Peachtree City and worldwide financial collapse cannot compare. The world of Peachtree City is quite small, and the world of, well, the world, is quite large. Nevertheless, the comparisons of leadership by our national and local governments is worthwhile.

Without proactive intervention by Peachtree City’s government, your garbage service bill will soon be increasing. The combination of our two largest residential service providers insures this; it is not if but when. Do not underestimate the ignorance of greed. (Perhaps you think I am one of those conspiracy theorists.)

Our city manager has been proactive and positioned our City Council to take what is sure to be a higher priced garbage can full of lemons, and make some tasty and moderately priced lemonade.

It’s easy to complain about government involvement and intervention, and easier yet to argue for free markets. But we do not each maintain our neighborhood street, nor do we embrace free market competition for our water and sewer service. These things we delegate to our duely elected government, and clearly for the right reasons.

So before we throw the Peachtree City manager, mayor and council under the bus for meddling in our garbage, stop to consider, and appreciate, the benefits (such as excellent recreation facilities, a safe and secure community, and strong governance) delivered by our well-studied and very capable civil servants that we too often overlook, ignore, or unduly criticize. They are proactive, and ahead of the curve on this one.

S. Leslie Rowell (certified garbologist)

Peachtree City, Ga.

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