When the new trash system goes into effect in Aberdeen this summer, about 90 percent of city residents won’t have to pay for the service, the city manager said Monday.
“July 1 we’ll go online with our new trash system pickup and for 90 percent of the city, there will be free trash pickup, no stickers,” Randy Robertson told the mayor and city council.
The council agreed last month that it would absorb the cost of trash pickup as part of residents’ property taxes.
Each resident also will get two 64-gallon containers, one for trash and one for recycling, for free.
If a container is lost or destroyed, a replacement container will cost $50, Robertson said. Residents who want a second trash container will pay $60.
Aberdeen residents will also get one free bulk trash pickup per year, Robertson said. The price of each subsequent bulk pickup will be based on the size of the item, he said. Those rates will be set by the council.
In the last 10 months, the city surveyed its 4,500 pickups in the city. About 1,100 customers use bulk pickup. Nearly half of those, 46 percent, only used it once, he said.
“The remaining 54 percent used it two, three, four times, we also have some instances of some seven to eight times, refrigerators, couches,” Robertson said. “That is not the intent. We’re wearing our men out, and that’s not what you all want as taxpayers, either.”
The city’s existing trash collection service hasn’t worked right in years, Robertson said.
A quarter of the residents putting out their trash don’t use the sticker system, which has been in place for about 30 years, but the trash collectors pick it up anyway so it’s not left on the side of the road, he said. As a result, money that was supposed to defray the cost of the pickups wasn’t being collected.
The city’s seven-member trash pickup staff isn’t the “garbage police,” Robertson said.
The department was losing two to three employees a year, but when Aberdeen agreed to change its system, all but one have stuck it out, he said. Only one employee has left in the last 18 months.
“We tried to pay attention to our men, and women, who are starting work at 5 a.m., and we committed to them to keep their job safe,” Robertson said.
Instead of being picked up by city employees and dumped into the trash trucks, the new trash containers will be lifted by a mechanical arm installed on the trucks.
“They’ll get through routes quicker and decrease overtime,” he said.
Robertson urged residents to keep using the stickers through the end of June, and to recycle.
“We’re trying to do what is best for the majority of this community and keep it clean and keep it neat,” Robertson said, “and not continue to hire two and three and four employees every year in jobs that are very difficult to fill, because a lot of people don’t want to be a refuse collection clerk.”