Trash bill to see cost increase

Nov. 24—If there's one service we can't live without, it's trash pickup. While the County fights to keep a lid on service fees, Pulaski Countians will have to see a $4 increase per month to their trash bill.

Danny Masten, Pulaski County Solid Waste Coordinator and Recycling Center manager, says the price jump was unavoidable.

Masten has been the county's solid waste coordinator for almost a decade and basically oversees everything that a Pulaski Countian throws away (and unfortunately everything that they litter).

"The way the county trash service is set up through the solid waste ordinance; every 10 years, it has to be bid out for service to different organizations that can operate efficiently and effectively in our county," explained Masten.

Masten said that this year was a bid year, and Pulaski County sent out a request for waste disposal companies to bid. There were two submissions: Waste Connections and Rumpke Waste & Recycling, Rumpke actually being a "no bid."

"We really only had one option," said Masten, meaning they went with the Waste Connections bid. "We accepted the contract, and that was with a $4-a-month rate increase."

Specifically, Pulaskians will see a price jump from $14.76 a month to $18.76 a month.

The two companies that submitted bids were among a few companies that Pulaski County had an option of receiving service from, but the rest declined to even submit a bid despite Masten's claim of extensive advertising and even arranging meetings with officials from other companies.

Rumpke's no bid, according to Masten, may have been due to not being able to fit Pulaski County's "specs" and requirements, but he said he could only speculate.

For the last 10 years, the county has relied on Waste Connections, and the reason that their prices increased, according to Masten, was due to the same factors that have led to the record inflation the nation as a whole has seen.

Masten cited rising landfill costs, operation costs, and fuel costs. He also said Waste Connections had to purchase all-new trucks which took a bite out of their assets. These considerations make him doubt the price will ever go back down to $14.76, and instead hopes the county can try to find better options.

It stinks, admits Masten, but he also pointed to what he feels is some silver lining.

"We did a lot of research," he said. "I called all the surrounding counties and asked them what their garbage rates currently were... and those rates are still competitive to everyone else's. We still have [some of] the lowest garbage rates in the state."

Masten did his homework and found many counties were seeing monthly charges as high as $30. He recalls being taken aback by this price quote and was pleased that Pulaski County was not also having to pay this price.

On top of the perk of the competitive rate, Waste Connections' new trucks will be equipped with a mechanical arm on the side that can dump the trash in the truck automatically rather than relying on a garbage collector to ride on the back of the truck and load it themselves.

"Every customer will be provided with a Waste Connections garbage can, and those trucks... will be able to pull up to the can and dump in the side of the truck," said Masten. "It will be a safer process, [and] it should be a little quicker... it's gonna be a little cleaner as well."

Due to Waste Connections' provision of cans, people who didn't have garbage cans won't have to fear vermin tearing open their garbage and rifling through it.

"We think in the end, it will provide a better service for everybody," said Masten. "It will be a cleaner and more efficient process."

Masten also mentioned the "bulk item pickup" which occurs at the beginning of each quarter. While in the past Waste Connections customers could see those items picked up curbside, they instead can take them to be disposed of on-site. Masten reminds the customers that they can call the company directly if they cannot bring the items to the disposal site themselves.