Curbside trash service is off the table for Gainesville, officials said at a public meeting to discuss the city’s solid waste service Thursday.
The city’s Public Works Department had proposed an ordinance change in March that would shift trash collection from twice-a-week back-door pickup to once-a-week curbside service.
The proposal came after city officials were asked to reconsider Gainesville’s solid waste service, as city council members did not want to continue relying on the general tax fund to support the solid waste budget.
“I think (the original proposal) had many flaws,” councilman Bob Hamrick said after the meeting at the Gainesville Civic Center. “I think what we come up with will be what the citizens want, what they expect in a service and what they can afford.”
Hamrick said council members will make their final decision shortly, possibly within the next month.
For Gainesville resident Vicki Parker, scrapping the idea of curbside pickup is good news.
“We do appreciate what we have here in the city of Gainesville; we’re proud of what we have in the city of Gainesville, and we don’t want it messed up,” she said.
At Thursday’s meeting, city officials presented several possible trash plans to attendees, including proposals both to keep trash services within the city and to privatize trash collection. To maintain the twice-a-week back-door level of service, rates would have to increase, officials said.
For a privatized service, the monthly increase would range from $2 to $14. To keep services within the city, the increase would be between $4 and $6.
With an informal show of hands, a majority of people in attendance at the meeting indicated they would be willing to see a rate increase if they could keep the same level of service they’ve had in the past.
But resident Bobbett Holloway did not agree.
“We all know a rate increase across the board will hurt many fixed-income and financially challenged families right now, especially with our economy,” she said. “We can have curbside for our city and protect the health of our city workers and have a cleaner, healthier city with all of the garbage enclosed in uniform carts, not necessarily 96 gallons.”
Citizens had previously complained that pushing large trash bins up and down steep driveways would be too difficult, and they largely wanted to keep back-door pickup.
“It’s a disappointment because a lot of experience, education, common sense and courage went in to designing (the original plan),” Holloway said. “And then we, who know nothing, sit here and slam it in the first five minutes.”
In a presentation to the group, Assistant City Manager Angela Sheppard outlined several of the problems with back-door pickup, including liabilities to both the city and the homeowner, and worker’s compensation issues, such as falls, back strain and injuries from needles thrown into the trash.
City Manager Kip Padgett said maintaining back-door service would not address these issues directly, but he said the city would go back and consider some ordinance changes to ensure there would be a remedy.
“This is a huge, important issue in our city,” Holloway said. “And we need to take time and a lot of research to get together on it.”