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Porterdale hires private firm to collect household trash
New interim city manager working to replace entire public works department after resignations

PORTERDALE, Ga. — Porterdale’s new interim city manager says a private company will collect residents’ household garbage but related services like yard waste collection will have to wait until the city has the staff to handle it.

The Porterdale City Council on Thursday, Aug. 20, voted to hire Covington-based Burgess & Sons LLC for curbside trash collection following the recent resignations of all city employees who formerly provided the service.

The resignations of five Public Works Department employees likely were tied to the council’s recent approval of a drastic cost-reduction plan that included furloughs reducing city workers’ pay by 20%. 

Former interim city manager Robert Witcher also led the department but resigned from both positions Wednesday, Aug. 19.

Newly-hired Interim City Manager Frank Etheridge said the contract with Burgess & Sons LLC is for a one-year period with two one-year extensions available “if both still want to work together on residential curbside solid waste collection within the limits of Porterdale.”

Burgess & Sons will perform curbside pickup only, he said. The city will resume yard waste and bulk goods pickup as done in the past once it has a staffed public works department, Etheridge said.

He also said he planned on Friday, Aug. 21, to begin the process of hiring a Public Works Department director, supervisor and three general workers. 

They will provide road and right-of-way maintenance, water and sewer services, general lawn care for public areas, park maintenance, yard waste and bulk household item pickup, as well as “other aligned tasks,” he said.

City officials already had arranged for Burgess & Sons to collect household waste Tuesday, Aug. 18, for the city’s 1,700 residents after one resident said household garbage had not been collected for about three weeks.

The cost-reduction plan council members approved in July included the pay reductions as well as the sale of some city assets and a two-mill increase in the city’s property tax rate.

It was designed to help generate almost $1 million the city government has owed to a variety of agencies — such as Newton County Water & Sewerage Authority, Georgia Power and the city of Covington — for services the city offers residents. Some bills date to December 2018.

Council members have said the spending problem stems from former city officials giving them inaccurate financial information.

Etheridge said residents with complaints about Burgess’ service should call Porterdale City Hall at 770-786-2217 — as was formerly the practice when the city provided the service.

Burgess is requiring residents to have their garbage bins by the side of the street in front of their homes, he said. 

However, residents and council members at a special called meeting Thursday noted city employees formerly retrieved garbage bins for disabled or elderly residents. 

Councilman Lowell Chambers suggested compiling a list of such residents and said he wanted the city government, not residents, to provide any extra funding needed for Burgess to serve elderly and handicapped residents in a similar way.