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City looks at garbage, trash collection privatization

News Staff Writer

Four Atmore City Council members gave approval during their Monday, February 26, meeting for the city’s economic planner to go ahead with a plan that could take the collection of residential solid waste out of municipal hands.
City Economic Planner Chris Walker said the city will be contacting several companies to see if they are interested in taking over the pickup and disposal of regular household garbage and yard trash, and to see if it is economically feasible to allow a private company to do so.
He said the city would launch an RFP (request for proposal). An RFP is a business document that announces a project, describes it, and solicits bids from qualified contractors to complete it.
“We are going to look at privatizing garbage collection,” Walker said. “We looked at this in 2013 but decided not to go forward, so we’re going to look at it again. We have already been in contact with three companies that will probably be bidding on it. They have also expressed an interest in buying our garbage truck.”
Walker explained that the mounting cost and the potential liability of continuing to do business as it is currently being done are the main reasons for the decision to look to a private contractor.
“Every five years you need a new garbage truck,” he said. “An advantage to doing this is that each resident will have a cart provided, so there will be no more bags at the streetside. Right now, we have a CDL driver and three guys on the back. If a private company takes over, our manpower can be moved to other areas. There won’t be any layoffs, we’ll just move those employees to somewhere else.
Streets & Sanitation Department Director Calvin Garce agreed that there was “plenty of work for everybody.”
The four council members (District 5’s Chris Harrison was unable to attend.) then asked how long before the RFP could be fully implemented.
“As soon as you guys say it’s okay, (City Attorney) Larry Wettermark and I will start on the draft,” he answered. “It will probably take a couple of months.”
Walker also said the bids would include the cost each customer would have to pay, and that the city can reject any or all of the bids.
In the only other businesses conducted by the council, Chase McGhee was appointed to a 6-year term on the city’s Utilities Board. He will replace Dr. Ulysses McBride, who resigned his position after serving on the board for “about 30 years,” Mayor Jim Staff said.