The motion to schedule the public hearing came after the council heard Republic Services Municipal Services Manager Michael Reeves explain the service.
Mayor Santiago “Jimbo” Martinez said he wanted the council to call a public hearing on the matter because the bulk trash collection service would add to the city’s monthly solid waste collection bill.
Reeves showed council members some photos of where residents had left brush and furniture on the curb for the city to collect. But since the city changed to the new toters that are emptied by special collection trucks, bulk trash has become a problem in some neighborhoods.
“In a perfect world, we would like to think that everybody has a pickup truck,” Reeves said. Currently, residents must have a pickup or trailer or know someone who has a one that can be used to get discarded appliances, furniture and other bulky items to the citizens collection station at the city’s equipment yard on South Jackson Street.
The best time for discarding those items is during the city’s annual Spring Clean when volunteer groups activate to clean up problem areas and residents can dump items at the city yard without having to pay for additional loads.
In one photo, Reeves showed the council a residence where someone had set a large television on the curb.
“We no longer collect old TVs because they often have mercury,” Reeves said. But the good news is that with bulk trash collection, Republic Services would pick up any old television with a screen of 32 inches or less.
The most important aspect of the service would be that Republic would pick up discarded sofas, lounges, mattresses, washers, dryers, kitchen ranges and refrigerators.
The city does require that refrigerators and air conditioners have the compressors and the freon removed.
Reeves said the one thing Republic will not collect is construction debris. He said if the company did that, it would end up having to discard huge piles of debris that contractors would put onto curb sides. And contractors are supposed to pay for discarding their debris.
Reeves said contractors may call Republic and have roll-off containers dropped off at construction sites.
Republic is offering two options, Reeves said. The first option would be bulk item pickup alone, without picking up brush piles.
The company would pick up six cubic yards of bulky discards a month from each residence for an additional $2.95 a month being charged to the city for each customer.
Reeves described six cubic yards of debris as “a Volkswagen Jetta.”
The second option would include the collection of brush and yard debris, including limbs and leaves. That would cost the city another $6.45 per customer per month.
Currently, leaves, grass clippings and most yard wastes can be put in Republic’s blue-topped trash carts and picked up once a week.
Branches and other yard trimmings are collected by the city and later mulched.
Councilwoman Libby Spires asked what would happen to the personnel who now pick up the brush piles in the city. City Manager Deborah Ballí said they would be transferred to the city’s street department.
Reeves explained that some hazardous items, like paint cans, tires, computers and large televisions would not be collected by the company.
He said that paint cans could be discarded in regular trash containers if the paint is allowed to dry. He said small pieces of carpet also would be picked up by the company.
Bags of leaves can now be discarded in the blue-top trash containers.
Reeves said he would recommend that the council go with the first option.
“You can’t beat that,” he said. Most communities charge $4 a month for the collection of two large items.
However, City Code Compliance Officer Ronald “Buddy” Hardy recommended that the council adopt the second option so that the current brush collection crew could be freed up for other duties.
Reeves said Republic has brought in a $50,000 compactor to the city yard and the city has been working on connecting the machine to the electrical service it needs.
Reeves said the city would like to keep the compactor at the site and Republic has agreed to allow that.
Republic would like to see the city approve a five-year contract if it opts for the additional service because the company would have to purchase new trucks and train operators.
It could also take Republic three to six months to fully implement the service because of the equipment and training requirements.
Reeves said Republic would give the city three months to make a decision before altering the price quotes.
When Martinez asked about cleaning up vacant lots, where many bulky items are often dumped now, Reeves said that could be done for a fee.
Mayor Pro Tem Mike Scotten asked if the service would also be extended to businesses and apartment complexes. Reeves said it would not because those customers use Republic’s dumpsters.
“I think it’s a very reasonable price,” Hardy told the council.
City residents will have a chance to voice their opinions of the offer on Feb. 12.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.