Carlos Perez spoke first and asked the council if they had sought bids from other entities for the same service.
He also expressed concern over the $2.95 per customer monthly fee for bulk trash service and the other $6.45 monthly fee for picking up brush.
“If both options are approved by the City Council,” Perez said, that could increase monthly solid waste collection fees by $9.40.
Perez also asked about residents who live in apartment complexes and wanted to know if they also would have the benefit of the services since apartment dwellers already use Republic Services dumpsters.
He wanted to know about residents in mobile home and RV trailer parks, asking if they would be charged for the bulk trash and brush collection services.
Perez called the proposed fees an “additional tax,” and he wanted to know if everyone who has a city utility account will be charged.
“Why doesn’t Republic Services offer to hire our city employees who are already picking up brush and doing an outstanding job?” Perez asked.
Perez finally asked about the five-year contract for the services that Republic was requesting. He wanted to know how much higher that service would be when the contract is renewed.
Mayor Santiago “Jimbo” Martinez told Perez he had some good questions, and he suggested that Perez speak to City Manager Deborah Ballí.
City resident Lauren Rector asked some of the same questions, and she suggested that the city schedule more cleanup efforts like the annual Spring Clean event.
That effort, usually held in April, allows residents who have paid water bill stubs to dump pickup and trailer loads of bulk trash at the city yard on South Jackson Street at no cost.
Republic Services provides large roll-off containers for that event.
Rector also pointed out that the current method of putting yard wastes into the six-cubic yard trash containers that Republic provides is not sufficient.
“I really don’t believe a six-cubic yard container will hold the brush,” Rector said.
She asked how residents are supposed to be able to remove freon and compressors from discarded refrigerators so they will be picked up at the curb by Republic vehicles.
Rector said poorer Beeville residents already have trouble paying the current solid waste, water and sewer bills every month.
Rogelio “Roy” Galvan then spoke to the council and reminded members that a $2.95 monthly increase in the solid waste collection fee with the bulk trash pickup cost added, multiplied by 5,000 customers, would bring another $14,750 a month to Republic’s coffers and total $177,000 a year.
Galvan said that the fee for the brush collection by Republic would amount to an additional $32,250 to the company’s coffers and another $387,000 annually.
“No disrespect for Mr. Michael Reeves from Republic Services, but has Republic Services offered to hire our city employees?” Galvan asked.
He said he had learned that Republic employees who collect solid waste here make between $135 and $155 a day.
“Does the City Council know that our city employees picking up brush make $95 a day?” Galvan asked. “Let’s keep that business here!”
After hearing another comment, the council listened to former councilman Arnold Medina.
“I speak from the heart,” Medina said, adding that he represents residents who are on fixed incomes.
Medina told the council members that most residents are afraid to go before the City Council and speak. “There are a lot of people who can’t afford what they have to pay now,” Medina said.
Mayor Martinez thanked those attending for their comments and reminded them that there was an agenda item that called for the public hearing on the proposed fees to be scheduled for a later date. He said Reeves had made that request because he would not be able to attend Tuesday’s meeting and listen to the comments on behalf of Republic Services.
Council members later rescheduled the official public hearing for Feb. 26.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.