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SWA members urge caution with solid waste contract
Courthouse with Flag

Some members of the Newton County Solid Waste Authority (SWA) are asking for changes and urging caution as the authority considers approving the county’s contract with Advanced Disposal Systems (ADS) to provide mandatory curbside trash pick-up in the county.

Members also asked that the fate of the convenience centers be re-addressed.

SWA member Bob Stafford summed up the feelings of many in the audience at Monday’s joint BOC/SWA work session.

“I just have to come out and say it – I think signing this contract would be a disaster for Newton County. We’re threatening to severely cripple five small businesses in the county- their families and their friends.”

Stafford recommended that a survey be conducted to see which convenience centers generate the most business for the landfill in order to learn the costs of the centers.

Stafford also said that more time is needed to understand the contract.

“I think that before going with the Advanced contract, we need at least a month and two or three meetings to go over that contract and understand it,” he said.

SWA member Phillip Wise voiced the concerns of many citizens.

“Most of the citizens, when they comment, they have always said, ‘please consider the convenience centers and what it’s going to cost.’ What I think we need to do is some real research and get some good cost analysis,” he said.

Wise also urged caution in going forward with the contract.

“As I understand this contract, I think we need to slow down and make sure that we continue to listen to the citizens and do some of the things that they want,” he said,” Get some real research and maybe we can put real numbers out there”

Earlier in the meeting, BOC and SWA member Nancy Schulz had detailed specific changes that she would like to see to the contract currently being considered.

“Section 4.8, Subcontractors, says that the ‘contractor may subcontract.’ I would prefer that it say ‘shall negotiate in good faith with existing haulers and subcontractors’ so that it’s not a matter that they may do it, but that we are expecting them to negotiate in good faith,” Schulz said of one of the changes she wanted to see.

Schulz also expressed concerns about the automatic renewal clause in the contract and automatic rate hikes tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

“Section 5.3 paragraph B, ‘After the initial one year anniversary of this agreement, rates are to be adjusted upward annually to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index.’ I don’t believe that we should have automatic rate increases,” Schulz said, “That paragraph, to me, seems like an automatic trigger to increase the rates.”

Commissioner Schulz also said that she would like for the county to provide convenience centers throughout the county to give citizens an opportunity for recycling should the cost of recycling through ADS be too cost prohibitive to be practical.

SWA Chairman Wayne Haynie said that the vendors proposed on what the county asked for and that the county got the “rock bottom” market price for curbside pick-up. He also said that the convenience centers were unaffordable in their current form, but that the SWA would like to see four or five convenience strategically located around the county left open for yard waste or recycling in the future.

Haynie also addressed the contractual concerns raised by Commissioner Schulz.

“All of those Items can be negotiated out in good faith. I believe we’ve got a preferred hauler that will do that,” he said.