The topic was discussed at Monday’s meeting and will be the focus of an upcoming work session as well.
District 3 representative Bobby Nunnelley, who asked for the item to be placed on the agenda, said he is tired of seeing trash on the edges of area roadways.
“It’s just garbage, garbage, garbage...Tell me how we’re going to fix it,” Nunnelley said.
District 1 representative Keith Davis said the solution must address the annual financial shortfall in the county’s solid waste department, which has been as much as $450,000 in some years.
Davis said this year’s loss is expected to be closer to $100,000.
Last year, commissioners agreed to purchase new automated garbage trucks and trash cans in hopes of helping the department run more efficiently and attracting new customers.
Davis said commissioners also considered having a private company handle garbage pickup in the county. They decided against it because they feared a dramatic increase in rates.
“Most counties are what we consider ‘mandatory.’ If we went with a private company, they would have wanted us to go mandatory right then so they would have the service space. We chose to go this route (automated) because we felt like it wasn’t fair to the citizens of Walker County to double or triple their garbage rates,” Davis said.
Approximately 6,000 county residents currently pay for trash pickup, an increase of 600 customers since the automated system was put in place.
However, an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 more are not served by the county or a municipality.
“These 6,000 who are on the garbage pickup are having to pay for these trucks. What are the other people doing? They’re taking it and throwing it out in the country. We’ve got to come to some conclusion that gives them the opportunity to put it in a garbage can. It could be making it mandatory, and I don’t think that would be unfair,” Nunnelley said.
District 2 Commissioner Dan Wright also recommended requiring businesses to only use the county’s dumpsters.
“We’re losing a lot of revenue because we’re having to drive past a bunch of cans just to get one or two of ours,” Wright said.
District 4 Commissioner Steven Aderholt added that commissioners should also take into consideration the additional labor and equipment that would be required to handle an increase in customers if a mandatory system were adopted.
Commissioners also discussed the need for enforcement officers to crack down on those who litter.
Nunnelley’s motion to require every resident in the county to pay for garbage pickup died for lack of a second.
Commissioners voted to table the discussion pending a work session that will be held before the May 5 meeting.