Get a job —Lowndes County to waste site workers

Continuing to ignore its responsibilities to protect public health, safety, and well-being, the Lowndes County government proceeded with its plan to trash rural residents’ waste collection sites, and told part time workers there to get a job.

Jason Schaefer wrote for the VDT today, Trash centers dumped: Final week to make trips to county recycling centers,

The Lowndes County Board of Commissioners near the end of 2012 voted to approve a contract with Advanced Disposal to serve as the sole waste company to conduct curbside trash pick-up in unincorporated Lowndes County. Some citizens remain critical of the change in service, which will cost $12.80 per month, and many are trying to get their last loads to the collection/recycling centers before they close….

Full-time employees at the recycling stations, which are already employees of Public Works, said County Clerk Paige Dukes, will be moved to different positions within the department. Part-time employees will need to find new jobs.

Why might citizens be critical? Perhaps because the county is granting a monopoly (they call it an “Exclusive Franchise Agreement”) to an Alabama company owned by investors in New York City? As Barbara Stratton put it:

Yet another example of government contracting not following the fair bidding practices or allowing community public input. Even if you attend government meetings no bid information is made public & even if bids are referred to the amounts are always in those elusive “packets before you” that only the members have access to.

In case you didn’t get the unsigned letter from the county:

The county recommends residents in unincorporated Lowndes County call Advanced Disposal, (229) 244-2466, to establish service prior to the Feb. 1 start date, to prevent problems due to call volume.

These citizens already complained directly to the Commission, at least one in writing, Gretchen Quarterman, and these in public meetings: Cary Scarborough, William Geyer, John Gates, and me, even though County Manager Joe Pritchard obviously wasn’t listening. Here’s another citizen:

County resident Frank Rice, who was dumping a pickup-truckload of leaves and pine straw in the yard waste area of the recycling center on Gil Harbin Road Friday, voiced his opinion of the new waste ordinance.

“I think they should keep the recycling centers open,” Rice said. “I have a lot of leaves in my yard, and they’re only going to pick up clippings every two weeks. I take my leaves out here every time I rake. It’s convenient.”

And anybody who thinks it’s only yard waste county residents will be burning from now on will be smoking plastics and other things as the wind blows their way.

Lowndes County Commissioners have ignored their responsibility to protect environment and the public health, safety, and well-being of its citizens. Other solutions were available, such as simply raising the price of the access cards for the disposal sites, or creating a special tax district for waste disposal. The Commission never even discussed either of those options. Even after a Commissioner admitted that publicly disclosed costs were only the tipping fees and not all the ancilary costs of waste disposal (dumpsters, truck maintenance, fencing repairs, etc., Commission and staff never gave a detailed public accounting of the alleged cost overruns:

“Unfortunately operating costs run annually slightly over $400,000. The revenue projections are a little bit complicated.”

They never held a public hearing with any of the sitting Commissioners who voted to close the county’s public-service waste collection centers and to grant a monopoly instead.

Does that seem right to you?