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Hall County is ready to talk trash
County weighs in on privatizing waste, recycling
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Hall County Public Works is throwing its hat in the ring as the county moves toward privatizing waste management.

Hall County Administrator Randy Knighton met Thursday with county employees involved in the decision, which could transform how the county handles its trash.

"We will be developing a timeline of how this process will proceed," Knighton said.

Public Works Director Ken Rearden expects the request for proposal won't be drafted until late August or early September.

"We've got to make sure we gather all the thoughts that have been thrown out there, and then we've got to send that over to the commissioners, and they're going to put their comments on it," he said.

The Hall County waste management team, which includes Rearden, County Engineer Kevin McInturff, Solid Waste Director Cary Lawler and Natural Resources Coordinator Rick Foote, will draft the request for proposal.

Because Hall County will also submit a proposal, the waste management team will not review proposals from private companies, Rearden said.

"That would be like if you're in school and you graded your own test," he said.

The department, though, is working to make its bid competitive.

Hall County currently operates on a multistream recycling system, where residents must separate their recyclables into specific bins. That would change to a single-stream method, Rearden said.

The Hall County Commission voted 3-2 on July 14 to extend the request for proposal to private waste management companies.

The commission had a few stipulations for the request, including maintaining the life of the county's landfill at 25 years, prohibiting tractor-trailer waste haulers and using single-stream recycling.

Private waste management is the norm for nearby Forsyth County, said Tammy Wright, the county manager of Environmental Programs.

Aside from three recycling centers, Forsyth's waste management is left in the hands of private companies, with no control from the county government, she said.

"If you live in Forsyth County, you get out the phone book and you call whoever you want to and hire them to come get your trash," Wright said.

For Forsyth County's waste management, it's about maintaining a solid partnership with private companies to provide good service for residents, she said.

The county receives some revenue as host of a private landfill. That money helps fill an enterprise fund to pay for the recycling centers, she said.

Haulers from across the state bring garbage into the landfill. While the county can't stop garbage from coming in, it can at least profit from it.

"We really can't say who can bring trash in and out or not," Wright said. "We may not like it, but we can't prohibit it, once it's permitted by the state of Georgia."

Wright said she's not sure if the system is better or worse than government-controlled garbage management, but she knows it's what people are comfortable with in Forsyth.

"When people are used to one thing and you try to mix it up, it's probably not going to be pleasant for a while," she said.