SQUARES ROUNDED_02 Ratio mod Covington

COVINGTON — Covington moved a step closer to privatizing sanitation services Tuesday evening. After hearing presentations from three sanitation companies at a called work session, the council, by a consensus of 4-3, decided to continue to move toward privatization.

At their annual retreat in January, the council voted 4-2 by consensus to create a Request For Proposal for the sale of the city’s sanitation operations. Hawnethia Williams and Kenneth Morgan cast the dissenting votes.

The city operates both residential and commercial solid waste pickup services, but due to increasing landfill tipping fees and the age and deteriorating condition of the sanitation equipment, the service is not profitable for the city.

Mayor Ronnie Johnston offered his assurances at the time to the 23 city employees affected by the possible sale that they would be given opportunities and training to advance their careers. Since then, three employees have transferred to other departments.

With the vacancies affecting service, in May the council approved a seven-month contract with Curbside Waste Systems of Conyers for curbside trash pickup in the city, in order to have more time to continue looking at privatization.

The city received five RFP’s and city staff narrowed them down to the top three — Advanced Disposal in Jackson, Curbside Waste Systems of Conyers, and Latham Home Sanitation in Loganville. All three made presentations Wednesday evening at the called work session, which was held at the Covington Municipal Airport.

All three stated:

♦ They would be interested in hiring city sanitation employees, with each company having a different number of vacancies that could be filled.

♦ They have no problem picking up garbage cans at the back door of citizens who are handicapped or elderly and can’t get the cans to the curb.

♦ They would prefer extending residential garbage pickup days from the four days a week the city now picks up to five days a week, which would lessen the number of homes picked up each day, but change the days some residences would have their cans picked up.

Advanced DisposalAdvanced is the 4th largest solid waste company in the United States, with a location in Jackson and its home office being in Ponte Vedra, Fla. Advanced is also in the process of merging with Waste Management, which is the largest solid waste company in the country.

They will pick up residential garbage, yard wastes, bulk items (furniture and appliances), and commercial garbage, and use Latham Home Sanitation as a subcontractor to pick up recyclables. Advanced does not use the Newton County Landfill for dumping residential garbage, but splits commercial garbage dumping between Newton County and Pratt Industries in Conyers.

Curbside Waste SystemsCurbside is owned by Tim and Pam Biddie of Oxford. Biddie has been in the residential garbage business for 40 years. He started Curbside in 2004 and has customers by subscription in Newton and Rockdale counties. Curbside is the most familiar with Covington’s routes, having been handling residential trash pickup for the city since May.

Curbside will pick up residential garbage, bulk items, and recyclables, and use Waste Services as a subcontractor to pick up commercial garbage. Curbside said they did not include picking up yard wastes in their proposal, but that it could be done as a separate cost. They take everything but recyclables to the Newton County Landfill, and take recyclables to Pratt Industries.

Latham Home SanitationLatham was started by Barbara Latham Darvis’ father in 1974. After he passed away, his wife and daughter took over the company and Barbara Latham Darvis is now president, her husband Rick Darvis is vice president, and her son-in-law Bear Keeling is operations manager. Mrs. Darvis was born and raised in Covington, and they all now live in Oxford.

Latham will pick up yard wastes, residential garbage, bulk items, and recycling. They have worked as a sub-contractor with Advanced since 2003 and said they would be willing to use Advanced as a partner to pick up commercial garbage if the city so desired. Latham said they also dump at the Newton County Landfill and Pratt Industries.

Following the presentations, Mayor Johnston asked for a consensus of the council on if they had heard enough to be able to decide if they want the city to take the next step with negotiations for privatizing sanitation.

“If we’re going to keep sanitation, we’ve got to rebuild what we’ve got and start budgeting properly and do all these things,” said Johnston. “If we’re going to potentially go down one of these paths, we need to make a mid-course decision on continuing to move ahead and fine-tuning, or not.”

The consensus was a 3-3 tie, with Anthony Henderson, Morgan and Williams against privatization, and Susie Keck, Josh McKelvey and Michael Whatley in favor of moving forward. Johnston broke the tie by voting in favor of continuing the process.

City staff is expected to bring a recommendation back to the council within the next several weeks.

Senior Reporter

Born and raised in Decatur, Ga. Graduated from Shorter College in Rome, Ga. in 1979 with B.A. in Communications. Worked in community newspapers for 26 years. Started at Rockdale Citizen/Newton Citizen in January 2016.

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