Collecting Newnan's Trash: City to seek new bids for a service provider

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Newnan is looking at rebidding its sanitation services. Here, CLM trucks are shown at Newnan's annual 'Junk Drop-Off' in 2009. The program was sponsored by Keep Newnan Beautiful, Plan B Solutions and CLM Sanitation.

By JOHN WINTERS john@newnan.com (Editor's note: This is the first in a series of stories on issues discussed by Newnan City Council at this week's planning retreat.) Sanitation, and what to do with the existing trash service, was one of the big topics during Newnan City Council's annual retreat this week.
As it stands, council members are ready to move forward to seek bids for a new contract -- and possibly a new contractor -- when the current agreement expires later this fall. "Staff at this point in time is ready to put out requests for proposals... with various options," said City Manager Cleatus Phillips during the planning meeting held at Newnan Carnegie Library. "We want to test the market." The current contract with CLM Sanitation expires in September. That company was bought out by Waste Industries but continued to operate under the CLM name under the existing city contract. Last September, the council denied a rate hike request from CLM, with Mayor Keith Brady and others bluntly telling CLM their job performance was sorely lacking. Phillips this week presented council members with a staff report that looked at the city going back into the sanitation business. Overall, it was not cost-effective. The city would have to spend about $1.47 million in capital costs -- trucks, trash carts, billing software and other items -- just to start up. In addition, annual operating costs would be about $1.5 million, which includes adding employees, tipping fees, maintenance and fuel. The deal breaker was that the sanitation department would just about break even, provided about $150,000 was added from the city's reserve fund each year, and, more importantly, rates would go up about $5-$6 per month above what residents are paying now. In their discussion, council members made it clear any new proposal from companies wanting the city's sanitation business should be much more than just a charge of "X" per month per trash bin. The city leaders are looking for more innovation in the bids -- contributions to cleanup efforts and beautification programs throughout the city, for example. Another issue relating to sanitation that council members discussed was the large number of residences that simply aren't paying their bills. Phillips said about 1,800 property owners are delinquent to some extent on paying their sanitation bills. As it stands now, CLM extends credit for up to three months, but then turns it over to the city to pursue payment, which is done by citations and fines issued through Municipal Court. The city manager said the city recently sent out letters to delinquent homeowners reminding them they are required to pay for sanitation services for their properties and that they need to pay their bill balances. The council's annual retreat is a chance for council members to discuss issues relating to the city in a more informal manner. Although no official votes are taken, council members' requests are passed on to the city manager, who in turn reports back in a more formal manner at regular city council meetings.


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