Curbside Pickup Seems a Natural
T he town of Southern Pines is wondering whether it should switch to curbside garbage pickup. The answer appears to be "yes."
Municipal officials floated the question as a trial balloon more than a week ago. Perhaps it is indicative of the public's position on this issue that The Pilot's story about the idea produced not a single negative response on our website, thepilot.com.
Granted, there were no positive responses either. But given the tendency of web commenters and bloggers to leap on their high horses at the slightest provocation, surely the town should view this as a no-news-is-good-news situation.
Curbside pickup requires individual residents to roll their trash out to where a truck stops to collect it. The alternative, which has been standard in Southern Pines for many years, is called "backdoor" service. That term seems a bit misleading, since many if not most local residents probably put it by a side door or set it out in front of the garage.
Looks Like a Win-Win
Whatever you call it, the present system requires employees of the hauling company to trudge into individual lots to retrieve the trash, which is been placed wherever it's most convenient to the residents.
That involves many more man-hours - and therefore obviously greater cost. Time was when we could afford such a luxury. In this day and age, for many of us at least, it seems about as quaint and outdated as the former custom of pulling into a gas station and sitting in your car while an attendant rushed out to fill your tank and wash your windshield.
It has been estimated that switching to the new system would save Southern Pines $20,000 a month, or more than a quarter of a million bucks a year, which ain't hay. It could go a long way toward helping balance the town budget.
Those who wished to stick with the so-called backdoor service could do so by paying an extra $4 to $4.50 per month. Disabled residents would also continue to get the special service free of charge.
Residents can voice pro-or-con opinions at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Douglass Community Center.
Town Should Supply Carts
There is one question that has so far not received the public attention it deserves: As part of the deal, would residents who opted to put their trash out by the curb be supplied with standard wheeled carts to roll it out in? And here again, the answer to that should be "yes" - as it is in most other towns with curbside.
In a brief exchange with The Pilot on Thursday, Town Manager Reagan Parsons offered assurances that was the way the wind seemed to be blowing.
"We have pricings that include both having those carts included as part of the contract and not," Parsons said. "It's obviously cheaper not to go in that direction. However, all discussion at the council level to date has included providing that cart, just out of recognition that many people, having utilized backdoor, may not necessarily have a rolling cart. They may just use a can, or put bags out there."
Curbside works for us - with that proviso.
Residents should also insist that town officials make sure to compare competing bids on an apples-to-apples basis, rather than being too quick to stick with existing contractor Waste Manage-ment. There is more than one fish in the sea.
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