SP Residents Speak Out on Trash Collection
Dorothy Brower believes backdoor garbage collection is part of the fabric of Southern Pines.
"Backdoor pickup is not just a service, it's a social thing," she said. "The Waste Management guys, as I call them, are local. We know them, and they know us. I have found them to be very trustworthy."
Brower was one of more than a dozen residents who urged the Southern Pines Town Council at its monthly meeting Tuesday to keep backdoor service and not switch to curbside garbage collection, a move that could save the town about $20,000 a month.
"Certainly, there would not be a savings in terms of the satisfaction of town residents," Brower said.
Former council member John McInerney opposed the potential switch for safety reasons.
"When I go on vacation, I can stop my mail and newspaper delivery," McInerney said. "If we have to roll our garbage out to the curb, the can is going to sit there for a few days if I go on vacation. To me, that's a serious issue because it tells everyone that I'm not home."
Jim McNiff, a former member of the Southern Pines Appearance Commis-sion, said he has "never met anyone" who thought the town should have trash cans on the street.
"I would hate to see it happen," McNiff said.
Waste Management, which has served the town for more than two decades, Waste Industries and Waste Connections have submitted bids to provide garbage, recycling and yard waste collection. The town's five-year contract with Waste Management expires June 30.
Essentially, there are three main options: retain the current level of service, switch to curbside with the contractor providing 90-gallon rollout carts, and curbside with the individual option to pay for backdoor service.
Waste Industries submitted the low bid for the first option at $97,158 a month. Waste Connections was next at $101,517, and Waste Management submitted the highest bid at $122,625.
If the town opts for curbside, Waste Management was the lowest bidder at $92,542 a month, Waste Industries was next at $96,031, and Waste Connections high at $97,274.
Under the final option, Waste Industries would not add a monthly fee to provide backdoor service, while Waste Connections would charge $2.24 a month and Waste Management $3.75.
"If worse comes to worse, I'll pay the fee," McInerney said.
The bid prices do not include disposal costs or fuel surcharges, which will need to be budgeted for by the town.
Prior to receiving feedback from residents, Mayor David McNeill emphasized that the council would not be voting on the matter.
"We're here to listen," McNeill said. "Whichever way we go, the town is going to receive significant savings over what we're paying now."
Southern Pines is the only municipality in the region currently served by Waste Management that offers backdoor service.
Tim Allen, who has lived in town for 42 years, said he has come to expect it.
"It's a perk that I feel like we get for our tax money," Allen said.
Former Mayor Frank Quis said backdoor service saves time.
"It's one less thing you have to think about," Quis said. "You all have a lot to think about, so it's nice to be on this side of the podium. I know you will make the best decision for the town."
Jerry Epperly, one of the last speakers, called himself "the contrarian in the room."
"I'm not against curbside or backdoor," Epperly said. "I didn't plan to speak, but I would like to see you use our tax money efficiently."
Ironically, the majority of resident feedback before Tuesday's meeting was pro-curbside, Town Manager Reagan Parsons said.
"The council has a lot of input to consider now," Parsons said.
He noted that the council will likely select the level of service and provider by the end of the month.
"We won't award a contract," Parsons said, "but I hope the council will provide direction so staff can enter into negotiations."
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or tnatt@the pilot.com.
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