DeKalb conducts survey on pilot program
Rockdale County residents packed a town hall meeting and overwhelmingly voiced their opposition to a proposed countywide curbside garbage collection program.
“I’ve lived in Rockdale County for more than three decades. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. A program like this would take away jobs from collectors that we’ve worked with and have gotten to known on a personal level over the years,” said resident Susan Landress. “I pay over $5,000 a year on taxes. I don’t mind if 15 different garbage trucks come down my street because I pay enough taxes already. We want to keep our current collectors or we can just take the trash to the center ourselves.”
Commissioner Oz Nesbitt, who hosted the Aug. 19 meeting at Johnson Park Recreation Center, said he heard the concerns loudly and clearly. The meeting was the second town hall held on the subject.
“As far as I’m concerned, when I walk out this door tonight, it’s a moot subject. It’s over,” Nesbitt told the crowd of about 70 residents.
Commissioner Janice Van Ness, who was also in attendance, agreed the county would not press the issue.
“In April, I gathered all the local haulers together to explore the possibility of establishing trash collection districts and assigning a select few collectors to handle those districts. But after this feedback, we know that our energies need to be redirected to other projects in the county,” said Van Ness.
Currently, residents may contract with a private service for garbage pickup. Household garbage and recyclables also may be dropped off at the Recycling Center on Sigman Road for a fee: 50 cents for a normal sized white trash bag and $1 for a large bag. Recyclables are taken for free.
The new trash program proposed in Rockdale would have brought a county contract to a single vendor to collect trash for all property owners. A variation of the proposal would have been to divide the county into districts and contract with selected trash haulers to serve each district.
Meanwhile, in neighboring DeKalb County, county officials are conducting online and phone surveys to determine whether to keep a pilot program that reduced trash pickups to only once a week in some areas.
DeKalb launched the once-a-week garbage pickup on April 28, providing 28,000 households with larger trash containers, recycling bins and yard waste bags. The county wanted to reduce sanitation workers’ exposure to harmful materials and chemicals.
The pilot program officially ended on July 31. But the county is continuing the program as it conducts a survey to determine if residents like the way it has worked.
“As a part of the decision making process, we would like to hear from residents and county employees on what they think about the pilot program so we can give that information to the proper elected officials,” said Sanitation Director Billy Malone.
Malone said a research group from Kennesaw State University’s A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service and Research will collect and analyze the survey data and submit a report to the county.