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Rockdale weighs countywide curbside trash pickup program

Oz trash

CONYERS--James Skipper, a trumpet instructor, doesn’t like the sound of Rockdale County commissioners approaching a proposal to provide countywide curbside garbage pickup.

 

Skipper, who prefers to take his trash to a recycling center, says county officials shouldn’t impose a new sanitation program on residents because it would likely drive up the costs.

 

“As a widower, I eat out all the time. The little trash I have I can just take it myself to the recycling center,” said Skipper, who pays 50 cents per bag of trash. “This is something we simply don’t need. We don’t want the extra tax and if we are given the opportunity to opt out, we all will.”

On July 15, County Commissioner Oz Nesbitt organized a town hall meeting for residents to give their opinion on the county possibly providing trash service, instead of residents using private haulers, or for those like Skipper, who drive their trash to a recycling center.

 

“Right now, it’s too early to say whether I am for or against this. This town hall showed me that there are a lot of questions that need answers before we could formally even consider adopting a county-wide trash collection,” said Nesbitt, who represents Post 1 in Rockdale. “If we were to approach this, I think there are some advantages though, such as enhancing the community’s safety and attractiveness, as well as improving code enforcement. It could possibly bring economic development through new recycling programs and the selling of those recycled materials.”

In June, news reporters covered a story concerning a Rockdale home that was piled up with trash and furniture in both, the front and backyard, in the Sugar Hill subdivision. Nesbitt says with a countywide collection, the trash, more than likely, never would have piled up like that.  

 

About 50 residents attended the July 15 town hall. All of them either shot the idea down all together or told Nesbitt if they did install a county-pickup program, the board would have to provide an opt-out alternative for residents who don’t want to be a part of it.

Currently, residents may contract with a private service for curbside garbage/trash pickup. Household garbage and recyclables may also be dropped off at the Recycling Center on Sigman Road for a fee: 50 cents for a normal size white trash bag and $1 for a large bag. Recyclables are taken for free.

 

Neighboring DeKalb County launched a program on April 28 that provides once-a-week pickups for trash and recyclables in some areas. In the program, 28,000 households were provided with larger trash containers, recycling bins and yard waste bags. Officials said the program is a plus because it means sanitation workers will have to do less lifting and have reduced exposure to harmful materials and chemicals.      

The new trash program proposed in Rockdale would mean a county contract would be made with a single vendor to collect trash for all property owners. A variation of the proposal would be to divide the county into districts and contract with different trash collection vendors to serve each district.

 

“If we were to look into this any further, property owners would pay for the service as a line item on their annual property tax bills. Residents in the city of Conyers currently pay about $240 annually for curb-side collection for trash, recycling and yard waste,” said Nesbitt. “We haven’t done any research on if this would cost more or less. It’s not about that right now. We won’t go any further if nobody wants it.”

 

Nesbitt says he will report the responses he received at the Board of Commissioners’ July 22 meeting. He says he is also considering hosting two more town halls in the next coming months to get additional feedback. About 50 people attended the July 15 meeting held at the J.P. Carr Center.    

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