SYLACAUGA, Ala. – On Tuesday, at the second of its two scheduled meetings in March, the Sylacauga City Council approved exercising options for fewer services in its contract with waste disposal company Waste Pro of Alabama.
Beginning May 1, Waste Pro will move from two residential garbage pick-ups per week to one, with recycling collection unchanged and continuing on a bi-weekly schedule. Additionally, effective April 1, Sylacauga’s Street Department will resume collection of curbside yard items and bulk waste.
Implementing these options will save the city $27,538.50 per month, or $330,462.00 annually, across the current 5,007 residential pickup locations.
Mayor Jim Heigl and Council President Lee Perryman told SylacaugaNews.com that finding ways to reduce expenses to help fund important city projects are much more preferable than simply raising taxes. Both also noted that large trucks are typically routed away from certain streets in Sylacauga and that the very heavy garbage trucks, which had damaged roads, were unfortunate exceptions.
“In addition to cutting costs,” Perryman said, “the city will significantly reduce wear and tear on roads, especially those with existing damage, and prevent even more costly repairs in the future.” Cutting that traffic, he and Heigl explained, especially on residential streets which had not been designed to anticipate such weight and frequency, was a key consideration as the city contemplates how to fund major and necessary investments in roads and related infrastructure and before any such work should begin.
Via social media, some residents expressed concern that only one pickup per week would not be enough, but, according to information provided by Waste Pro, “very few cities” in their central Alabama service area have twice-per-week service, “particularly if provided with a 95-gallon container” as in the case in Sylacauga. Others also wondered why their charges would not decrease, apparently unaware of the subsidies and other city costs related to waste disposal and street services.
According to Heigl and Perryman, the city subsidizes such efforts, with actual costs for all components higher than charges passed directly to residents and businesses. The intent of the mayor and council, they said, is to find further cost savings in various areas as part of efficiency improvements, making it easier to finance other programs and services.
Saving money wherever possible is responsible and vital, Mayor Heigl explained to SylacaugaNews, especially when citizens are expecting many projects to be accomplished under the new administration.
Former councilman Tom Roberts told SylacaugaNews.com that he applauds the current council for saving over $300,000 per year and that while people certainly have a “right” to gripe about their costs remaining the same, they are not correct in their complaints and understanding.
Roberts said he and other former members of the city council lost their bids for reelection because they simply did not find a way to execute the goals of the citizens of Sylacauga – one of those, still very much a priority for the current council, repairing streets and roads. Roberts added that the current leadership will be forced to continue to find ways to cut expenses to fund paving and other priority activities.
Updated collection schedules are being formulated by Waste Pro. As part of the changes, the city and Waste Pro hope to better educate residents on how to maximize their use of the large garbage containers and on the proper use of the separate recycling containers.
“We appreciate our relationship with Waste Pro and the excellent services they provide in Sylacauga,” said Perryman.
According to the company’s website, Waste Pro is a privately-owned waste collection, recycling, processing, and disposal company. It serves more than two million residential customers and 40,000 commercial customers in nine southeastern states and maintains more than 235 exclusive municipal contracts and franchises.
Jeremy Law for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2017, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.