Waste Management

Waste Management is asking the City of Spring Hill to purchase automated trash bins in order to cut down on manpower needs and better allow for consistent pick-up times.

Spring Hill residents would see their garbage bills increase for the next two years beginning in June should the city decide to simply extend their contract with Waste Management rather than bid out a new contract.

Currently, residents are paying $12.11 per month for garbage pickup, but that rate will increase to $15.50 per month with the new contract.

“The last thing we want to do with oil and equipment prices being what they are right now is try to go out to bid to do a three-year bid contract,” city administrator Pam Caskie said. “If we have a working relationship with a company who’s willing to take a chance on a fixed contract number, I think we’re better off.

“Normally, I like to rebid contracts because it keeps the competition clean and safe, but I don’t think right now is the time to bid something.”

The board is discussing whether or not to utilize an “automated” 96-gallon bin, which will be issued to residents and will be required for use.

The bins are issued at no cost to residents initially, but the city would be required to purchase the bins at a prorated cost if the contract is terminated before 10 years. Caskie said the bins would likely be purchased by the next vendor if the city chose a new waste management contractor.

Alderman Matt Fitterer objected initially to the new bins in the April 4 work session, saying he would prefer to not have a six-figure bill at the end of the contract period.

“If we buy the containers, we could end up selling them to the next vendor, but that’s certainly not a guarantee,” he said. “What I’m fearful of is in two years we could have a (six-figure) bill. Hopefully the next vendor buys them, but maybe they don’t.

“I’m much less interested in having the city logo on a trash can than I am getting stuck with a six-figure bill.”

The new bins would allow Waste Management to pivot to an automated system, which would likely decrease route times, but is due mainly to staffing issues within the company.

“The days of someone hanging off the back of a garbage truck are long gone,” Don DeFazio, director of collector operations in the Mid-South for Waste Management, said.

Caskie said the city could try and require everyone to purchase a cart on their own, but because it must be a certain style it’s easier to issue them to residents.

Complaints and consistency

among concerns

One of the major concerns outside of being stuck with bins the city would have to purchase in two years, Fitterer said, is the consistency of pick-up times. Noting that sometimes pick-up can take place at 6 a.m. or as late as 3 p.m. Fitterer asked if the pick-up times could be narrowed down, but DeFazio said the company has never done that in its past.

“Volumes vary, and as volumes start to vary, route times start to vary. We try to be as consistent as possible; everybody has a route map – start at Point A, finish at Point B,” he said. “Staffing issues can cause that to vary as well. All of a sudden, we’ve got six routes with five people so there is a shared route. Aside from that, as volume fluctuates, times do too.

“I can commit to you that every driver gets consistent start points, consistent finish points; make sure every driver starts at the same place at the same time every day.”

The company is also committed to installing cameras in their trucks in order to combat missed pick up complaints as well as provide the city with a direct email for those complaints and others.

“We have a lot of citizen issues around picking up recycling and garbage. Waste Management is working on a camera system to help with the citizen response issue,” Caskie said. “(They have also) agreed to give us an email, so when we get a complaint, it goes to them instead of us having to take the call, call them and then call the customer back.”

The contract with Waste Management would run through 2024 if approved at the May BOMA meeting.

Chris Yow has served as the managing editor for the Trussville (Ala.) Tribune and, most recently, the Spring Hill Advertiser News. He has worked as a sports editor and has covered high school sports in different capacities for 18 years.

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