Town, county part ways on garbage collection in Pulaski
By MIKE WILLIAMS
Big changes are coming next year concerning garbage collection in Pulaski, following action this week by both Pulaski County and the Town of Pulaski.
On Monday night, the county Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to endorse the Public Service Authority’s decision to terminate an agreement with the Town of Pulaski dating back to 1986 to provide garbage pickup in the town.
On Tuesday night, Pulaski Town Council – which provided billing services in the town on behalf of the PSA – followed suit by also voting to cancel the existing agreement.
The effective date of both actions is Dec. 31, 2022.
Vice Mayor Brooks Dawson read a statement at Tuesday’s town council meeting which provided a timeline on the town’s actions as well as announcing plans moving forward for garbage collection in Pulaski.
The statement said that, starting in November 2021, council and town staff have communicated to the PSA their concerns regarding service to town residents – particularly the long delays in removal of bulk items and customer complaint calls.
“These service issues and the town having to respond to these issues led the town manager to notify the PSA in January 2022 that the town would discontinue billing for PSA trash collection on June 1, 2022, making it clear to residents the agency responsible for trash collection,” the statement read.
“Prior to this,” Dawson said, “in December 2021 the town manager suggested that the upcoming town budget include resources for bulk trash removal since the PSA service was not timely.”
Dawson said staff met with PSA officials in late January to discuss their concerns regarding losing billing services and the town shared it specific concerns.
“But this meeting did not yield any proposed change in service and the town reaffirmed its original decision on Jan. 19,” Dawson said, adding that the PSA Director and a member of the PSA board attended a council meeting in February, citing the challenges the termination of billing posed for the PSA. He said they indicated that servicing the town would be troublesome if billing services ceased and not profitable otherwise.
Dawson said this prompted the town to initiate an RFP (Request For Proposal) process in May 2022 to determine if there was an acceptable alternative to the contractual arrangement with the PSA.
“County officials had encouraged the town to do its ‘due diligence’ in evaluating options potentially available,” Dawson said.
He said three responses to the RFP were received on June 1, 2022, which triggered an “exhausting analysis” of the proposals, including one from the PSA.
“Council identified as its three priorities for trash services customer service, regular bulk pickup, collection and operation of a convenience center,” Dawson continued, adding that meetings with potential providers focused on these priorities as well as cost.
“In the final analysis, a private hauler – GFL (Green For Life) was selected,” Dawson announced.
“Their proposal provides improved service at the same cost and will include providing a 95-gallon container to each residence and business currently receiving curbside collection, weekly collection of trash, bulk collection once a month, upgraded convenience center equipment, fewer holiday service changes and a dedicated customer service hotline,” Dawson said.
GFL will begin servicing town residents on January 1, 2023.
Dawson said details on transitioning to GFL will follow in the months ahead.
He noted that at the end of the 5-year contract with GFL, a new RFP will be issued to ensure that town residents continue to have the most efficient and effective service.
“The PSA has had, since 1986, the exclusive right to perform trash services to all residential, commercial and industrial customers within the town limits. That exclusivity will end with termination of the existing contract on Dec. 31, 2022. While the town continues to consider whether it should grant exclusive rights for these businesses to be serviced in the future, businesses will be free to choose their trash provider for the immediate future,” Dawson said.
At Monday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors, County Attorney Tim Kirtner told the supervisors that there seemed to be – in the PSA’s view – some agreement with the town that the 1986 agreement “really is much outdated and doesn’t track what’s actually being done at this time.”
He said the PSA had determined they intend to terminate that agreement effective Dec. 31, 2022. He said that is the same date the town has told the PSA it plans to terminate the billing service they have previously been providing to the PSA.
Kirtner said the PSA had notified the town in July of its intentions to cancel the 1986 agreement.
Near the end of Tuesday’s council meeting, Dawson expressed excitement over GFL’s future service to the town.
“I think the increased level of bulk pickup every single month, 12 times a year is something that’s going to really have the potential of improving the look of our town and probably reduce some code violations at the same time. And I think having the entire town equipped with a uniform trash can is going to be a very attractive look for our town,” Dawson said.
He added it is unfortunate that the best agreement was not “with our neighbors in the county,” but that the town will look forward to going through the RFP process again in five years and make sure it is doing the best thing for the citizens.