Hall County commissioners voted Thursday in favor of extending a request for proposal for private companies to manage the county's garbage.
The request for proposal is to include several conditions the commission approved.
First, a contract from a private company would not be approved solely on price. Out-of-county trash will be prohibited and county employees will keep their positions operating the compactors.
Also, the lifespan of the landfill will not be shortened to less than 25 years.
Lastly, recycling will be single-source, meaning citizens will not be expected to separate glass, paper, plastic, metal or other recycleables.
The proposal was determined by a 3-2 vote. Chairman Tom Oliver and Commissioner Billy Powell were opposed to the motion, while Commissioners Craig Lutz, Ashley Bell and Scott Gibbs voted in favor.
Interim County Administrator Jock Connell asked that the proposal request be reviewed by the commission before it is sent out to interested companies. He added that the county should maintain certain areas of trash disposal if it can do it better than a private company.
Oliver expressed concerns that the county was not prepared to send out a request, and believed the council didn't know what to ask private companies to provide.
"My question is, what are we asking for in the request for proposal?" he said.
Oliver asked Lutz if he'd had any contact with the private waste management sector. Lutz replied that he'd been in contact with the companies Waste Management, Waste Pro and Advance.
Lutz added that none of the people he had served with on previous city councils had a financial interest in waste privatization in Hall County. Lutz is a former Flowery Branch city council member.
Gibbs voted in favor of the request for proposal only on the stipulation that no garbage from other counties would be brought into Hall County's landfill.
"I want to make sure that in the proposal it is clearly spelled out, I'm not interested in any waste coming in from outside Hall County," he said.
Gibbs later added that proposals from private companies could provide information that Hall County's current waste management facilities could use.
After the meeting, Powell said he disapproved of the request for proposal only after he heard a presentation from Public Works Director Ken Rearden on money-saving possibilities within Hall County.
In a powerpoint presentation, Rearden estimated the county could gain an extra $750,000 within the budget if Hall County implements certain changes, including sites closing at noon on Saturdays and more holidays during the year.
Powell said keeping waste management "in house" rather than bringing in a private enterprise would allow the county to have more input on operations.
"I think we have more flexibility and more total control for decisions and practices that way," he said. "There's got to be a certain element of control that's lost when you have somebody else calling all the shots."
Hall County's 13 compactor sites run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 364 days a year.
The landfill operates for 309 days a year, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Hall County landfill is 255 acres, with 94.2 acres provided for waste.
In addition to the county's 13 compactor sites, the county has a recycling center on 2.41 acres.
The recycling collection sites operate 312 days a year.
As the request for proposal is drawn up, Oliver hopes each commissioner will have plenty of time to collaborate with the county administrator on its content.
"I hope we all have some input in what the request for proposal is for," he said.