COVINGTON, Ga. — Garbage pick-up service rates for Covington have increased, but residents won’t feel the hit to their pocketbooks thanks to a decision by the city council.
Latham Home Sanitation Co., who is contracted to handle the city’s residential solid waste collection services, initially requested a 10% rate increase in early April due to various factors, including inflation and increasing operational costs. The rate increase request was the first the company had made since being contracted to serve the city in 2019.
After much discussion and criticism from residents and various council members, the request was denied with the intentions of continued discussions at a later date.
During its May 2 meeting, Mayor Steve Horton said the topic of solid waste collection services was a point of discussion during a recent council retreat.
“We considered inflation,” Horton said. “But also, if we were to lose this service today, we’d have no service. We don’t have the equipment and the ability to go out and do that without contracting ahead.”
City Attorney Frank Turner Jr. said Latham Home Sanitation Co. and the city’s commercial garbage collection service provider Advanced Disposal/Waste Management had the power to terminate their contract this month, effective July 1. City staff reported trying to bid out a new provider would result in rate increases up to 25%.
When Latham Home Sanitation Co. began serving the city in 2019, the monthly contracted price was $16.15 per residential unit, $8 per additional can and $23.50 for businesses utilizing residential containers.
The company proposed only a 10% rate increase that would translate to a $1.60 increase per month, increasing the cost per residential unit to $17.75 per home and $25.10 per commercial account. The proposed extra can rate was increased to $8.80.
Minimal discussion led to Councilwoman Susie Keck presenting a motion that would approve the increase, but also require the city government to absorb the cost — not the residents.
Based on documentation provided by the city, a 10% rate increase would total approximately $111,000.
The motion was approved 4-2; council members Charika Davis and Anthony Henderson opposed.
The council also approved a rate increase request from Advanced Disposal/Waste Management for its contracted commercial solid waste collection services.
To account for inflation and the rising cost of living, Advanced Disposal/Waste Management proposed a 7% rate increase. However, the council disapproved.
Keck recalled that the company, unlike Latham Home Sanitation Co., had requested multiple rate increases in the past, and those had been granted.
Horton confirmed that a 2.5% rate increase had already been approved at the beginning of 2022.
Finding middle ground, the council opted to approve a 5% rate increase 4-2; again, Davis and Henderson opposed.
Steve Edwards, who is public sector manager for Advanced Disposal/Waste Management, said the 5% increase would be acceptable and “appreciated.”
He said the company had been made aware of many issues throughout the community and was working to see them be addressed.