Trash: In search of a solution
What other communities do
Other communities in East Central Mississippi use either a municipal collection service or a combination of private and government pickups, most at a lower cost than the $10 a month paid by most Meridian residents.
DeKalb contracts its garbage collection with Kemper County, whose trucks make pickups twice a week. The town uses its own equipment to handle limbs, leaves and other debris. Residents are charged $8 a month for the service.
Quitman uses city vehicles and employees to collect garbage twice a week, while limbs and other yard waste are picked up once a week by the city. Quitman bills its residents $8.66 per month for the service.
Marion Mayor Malcolm Threatt said his town has used Waste Management for about three years and has never experienced any difficulties with the company.
What are the options?
Before any possible changes in the city's garbage collection could take place, Thomas said Waste Management would have to be found in default of its contract. Thomas asked city attorney Bill Hammack to see if the company could be found in default at a council meeting last week. Hammack is still looking into the matter, according to Thomas.
Thomas said other options are to leave the contract the way it is, renegotiate services with Waste Management so they would pick up everything unrestricted or let the city begin full service garbage and trash pickup.
Councilman Smith said he would like to see a scenario where Waste Management could just concentrate on garbage collections.
Smith said he would even consider the possibility of allowing the city to take over all garbage services.
When Waste Management's contract was up for renewal last year the Public Works Department proposed it could take over collections and save the city over $150,000 a year. Smith was one of the most outspoken critics of the city's plan. At that time, he said the public works department did not need to be burdened with the extra work.
Thomas said although the city taking up collections is an option, he warned the cost to acquire the equipment and extra personnel would be enormous.
Bernard, who lives near Phil Hardin Park, said an immediate solution is needed before someone is injured in an accident because of the piles of debris. Meridian police and fire officials have already cautioned that the piles are obstructions that could be dangerous.
Councilman Smith said safety isn't the only issue that needs to be resolved.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3226, or e-mail him at email@example.com.