Split vote makes trash pickup once per week

Council members clash over change, ‘call list’
Reporter Editor

Rockdale residents will lose one of their two weekly trash pickup days after a divided city council ended a lively discussion with a 4-2 vote Monday.

The council voted to direct City Manager Kelvin Knauf to negotiate with IESI for once-a-week service beginning about Jan. 1.

Currently, Waste Management provides twice-a-week service to Rockdale.

Council members Doug Calame, Toby Johnson, Joyce Dalley and Melanie Dawson voted in favor and councilmen Allan Miller and Willie Phillips voted against.

Mayor Larry Jones, who does not vote unless there is a tie, also expressed opposition to the switch from twice-a-week service.

The IESI proposal, adopted Monday, calls for a $12.98 monthly charge to the customer and includes 96-gallon wheeled carts provided to each customer by the company.

Recycling is not a part of the option.

CONFRONTATION—Miller prefaced his remarks with an apology to IESI district marketing manager Jim Hare.

“I am going to vote against your proposal,” he said. “It’s nothing personal against you. The citizens of this town are not happy with their waste collection being cut in half.”

“ The citizens are for twice a week. I know that’s the way a majority of them feel,” Miller said.

Johnson challenged that statement, saying she had contacted 11 Rockdale residents. “ Two were for twice a week and nine said they would be happy with once a week.

Johnson also said she was called by “a little lady,” who opposed the once-a-week proposal. “She told me I was on her ‘call list’,” Johnson said.

Johnson said people in the community who are against the proposal didn’t know of the many options being studied by the city and had no idea garbage rates would go up even if the city stayed with the current contractor and continued twicea week pickup.

OPTIONS—The council had been studying 14 proposals from three companies, IESI, Waste Management and Texas Disposal.

Current residential monthly cost to customers— twice weekly pickup from Waste Management—is $12.31.

Waste Management’s proposal to continue that service, without the carts was for $15.14.

Council member Joyce Dalley compared Waste management’s $15.14 proposal to continue current service and IESI’s $12.98 proposal for once-a-week and pointed out the IESI bid eventually chosen by the council is actually $2.16 cheaper than Waste Management’s bid to keep the current twice-a-week.

“But that’s for half the service,” Jones said.

Other proposals by the three companies had included options for recycling and options with and without the 96-gallon carts.

‘UNAWARE’—“ The people I’ve seen in my practice are whole-heartedly against it (once a week) ,” Mayor Jones, who is a dentist, said. “I think this is less service for a higher fee. Cameron did it and they switched back.”

Dalley said she felt the call lists were “put out by people who were not totally aware” of all the options, and prices, offered by the three companies.

Calame, who made the motion to accept the IESI option, cited a possible conflict with the city’s period “Stash Your Trash” days., in which the city rents extra containers for designated days of trash collection.

He said contract terms proposed by IESI appeared to add $600 to the cost of renting the same number of containers.

Hare said that apparent discrepancy could be worked out in contract negotiations.

ASSISTANCE—Johnson asked if IESI could provide assistance to elderly or disabled customers who might be unable to get the large carts to the curb.

“We have a program where an IESI ‘Christmas tree’ symbol is placed at a home,” Hare said. “The drivers see the symbol, go to the door, take the trash container, empty it and return it.”

He said recycling could be added at a later date, if desired by the city.

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