Trash bill to see cost increase | news

If there’s one service we can’t live without, it’s garbage collection. As the county struggles to keep service charges under control, Pulaski Countians have to increase their garbage bill by $4 a month.

Danny Masten, Pulaski County Solid Waste Coordinator and Recycling Center Manager, says the price jump was inevitable.

Masten has been the county’s waste coordinator for almost a decade and basically oversees everything a Pulaski Countian throws away (and unfortunately everything they throw away).

“The manner in which the county waste service is set up by the Waste Ordinance; every 10 years it has to be advertised for service to various organizations that can work efficiently and effectively in our county,” explained Masten.

Masten said this year was a solicitation year, and Pulaski County sent out a solicitation to waste management companies. There were two submissions: Waste Connections and Rumpke Waste & Recycling, with Rumpke actually being a no offer.

“We really only had one option,” Masten said, meaning they went with Waste Connections’ offering. “We accepted the contract, with a monthly rate increase of $4.”

Pulaskians in particular will see a price jump from $14.76 per month to $18.76 per month.

The two companies that submitted bids were among the few companies that Pulaski County had the opportunity to seek services from, but the rest declined, despite Masten’s claims, to extensive publicity and even meetings with officials from other companies to arrange to make an offer at all.

Rumpke’s no-offer, Masten said, could have stemmed from his inability to meet Pulaski County’s “specs” and requirements, but he said he could only speculate.

For the past 10 years, the county has relied on Waste Connections, and the reason for the price hike, Masten said, was due to the same factors that led to the record inflation the nation as a whole has experienced.

Masten pointed to increasing landfill costs, operating costs and fuel costs. He also said that Waste Connections had to buy entirely new trucks that took a bite out of their fortune. Those considerations make him doubt that the price will ever drop back down to $14.76 and instead hopes the county can try to find better options.

It stinks, Masten admits, but he also pointed out what he thinks is a silver lining.

“We did a lot of research,” he says. “I’ve called all the surrounding counties and asked them what their garbage fees are at the moment… and those fees are still competitive with everyone else’s. We still have [some of] the lowest garbage rates in the state.”

Masten did his homework and found that many counties had monthly fees as high as $30. He recalls being surprised by the price offer and pleased that Pulaski County didn’t have to pay the same price.

In addition to the competitive tariff benefit, the new Waste Connections trucks will feature a mechanical arm on the side that can automatically dump the trash into the truck, rather than relying on a garbage collector to drive on the back of the truck and drives loading itself.

“Each customer will be provided with a Waste Connections garbage can, and these trucks … will be able to pull up to the garbage can and tip it into the side of the truck,” Masten said. “It will be a safe process [and] it should be a little bit faster… it will also be a little bit cleaner.”

Thanks to Waste Connections’ provision of garbage cans, people who didn’t have garbage cans don’t have to worry about bugs ripping up and digging through their garbage.

“We believe that in the end it will provide a better service for everyone,” said Masten. “It will be a clean and efficient process.”

Masten also mentioned the “collective collection” that takes place at the beginning of each quarter. While Waste Connections customers have historically been able to see these items curbside for pickup, they can instead bring them in for on-site disposal. Masten reminds customers that if they cannot take the items to the disposal site themselves, they can call the company directly.