Flowery Branch is getting out of the trash collection business.
City Council voted unanimously Thursday to approve a new ordinance that gives residents the choice of either contracting with a company approved by the city or disposing trash on their own, such as at a Hall County compactor site.
"There'll be no change in service as you see today," Councilman Chris Fetterman said. "The only thing (residents will) see differently is that the bill will go to the provider and not the city."
A couple of residents raised questions about yard waste pickup, trucks running routes throughout the week and trash buildup at homes.
"Why are you all trying to fix something that's not broken?" asked Jack Reese, one of two residents to comment on the new ordinance.
City Attorney Ron Bennett said regarding yard waste pickup that City Council has indicated it would try to find a provider that would offer that service.
"Certainly, it would not be a big deal if ... you can't find a provider that will do that for a price. We can certainly go back and make provision (in the ordinance) for special pickup," he said.
"This ordinance is drafted with the intention of that being part of the service that the provider would give."
Speaking to other issues and addressing the residents, Councilwoman Tara Richards said, "You and your neighborhood shouldn't experience a change. You'll still have one provider coming one set day of the week with a single-axle truck. You won't have multiple trucks, multiple days."
She added that in the case of residents who opt not to sign up with a provider and let trash build up on their property, "we have ordinances that say if they are a nuisance ... the city will take care of that with fines and violations."
The council's responses didn't satisfy Reese.
"You have a fairly good system that's working now. The city's not losing money on the service ... You're screwing up the whole city by changing the law," he said.
"Sir, with all due respect, the city is losing money," Richards said.
The debate went on between Reese and the council, with Reese finally saying, "I've been in business all my life and if you do a contract with a large number of clients, you're going to get a better price."
"That's what we're doing," Fetterman said, referring to the bid process to pick one contractor for the city. "We're still selling the city as a population."
"No you're not. You're breaking it down, and I'm sorry," Reese said. "You can't convince me otherwise."
"Well, after this done, come back in a year and see if it's changed — that's all I can ask you to do," Fetterman said.
"I hope I'm not here in a year, because things like this are happening in the city."