During the August 2020 County Commissioners meeting, Republic Services proposed changing their current service level, from running the convenience sites and transfer station, to add roadside collection. The proposal would shut down all but two or three roll-off sites and start providing pickup of trash from homes in Beaufort County. They consider this a service level increase and are asking for a contract modification.
Republic would pick up household trash five days a week on four routes using new vehicles. They would also run three new trucks five days a week to pick up cans holding yard waste. Finally, they would provide a knuckle boom to pick up items like old sofas, appliances, and small demo projects by appointment.
While I am sure they get a bulk pricing break on items, the trucks will cost about $2,000,000 and the trash cans will cost about $4,000,000 (2 per household @ $100 each). This is based on population data from the 2010 census which says we have 21,300 households in the county, not counting Washington or Belhaven who provide this service to their residents already.
This is not a service level increase; it is an additional service. Before we can GIVE this to Republic there needs to be a bid process. GFL, David's Trash Service, and Family Sanitation need to be able to bid on this new service. Republic has a ten year contract to run the convenience sites and the transfer station. They claim they can add the new service by dropping most of the convenience sites for no extra charge. By giving them a contract they will be forcing all their competitors out of the county or at a very minimum cause them to lose their current non-municipal customers.
To David's Trash Service the immediate impact would be the loss of 12 full-time employees. David's currently employs 26 people who are Beaufort County residents. People who pay taxes, including the solid waste fee, buy products and services from Beaufort County stores, and are our neighbors. They service 2,700 customers in the county. Plus David's supports other local businesses with fuel purchases, tires, and supplies. How will this impact them?
All county residences pay a $165 solid waste fee. In Washington County, where this service is currently being offered by Republic, they pay a $275 solid waste fee. Looking at the costs I don't see how Republic can provide this service for the money they are currently getting. I have not seen their contract but I bet there is nothing in it to prevent them from coming back and asking for more money. And if they do not get it do they hold out on picking up trash?
If you don't pay the solid waste fee a lien can be placed on your property and sold to the lowest bidder. Yes, you can lose your house for not paying for the solid waste fee. It may be a fee in name but it is a tax.
Nothing in this proposal talks about disposing of old tires. How about electronics? Are county residents going to have to drive over 50 miles to the two convenience sites to get rid of stuff Republic will not pick up? Will Republic go down private dirt roads or through a trailer park to pick up trash? How are they going to handle bridge weigh limits or low power lines? There are places in the county that restrict entry until certain times, how will they handle that?
How long will rubbish sit on the side of the road before it is picked up? Roads will be littered with trash cans and waste. Who in the county will be responsible for replacing lost or damaged cans, missed pickups, or scheduling?
And finally, who authorized the running of the Public Notice ad in the Washington Daily News? It was not the County Commissioners. Was it the Solid Waste Committee, or was it the County Manager? I really don't think it was done by the people who are responsible for this action.
There are way too many questions that still need to be answered.
Tandy Dunn is a Republican candidate for County Commissioner in the November election.
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