Magistrates set May 19 as deadline For trash prices

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One representative: ‘What’s in it for us?’

By Lisa King

A meeting Tuesday set for Shelby County magistrates and solid waste haulers to discuss the possibility of publishing rates ended with very little information and some confused haulers.

Legislative Committee members met with representatives of four trash/recycling companies – Legacy, Republic, Rumpke and Waste Management – and asked that they make a two-year commitment to a price, which will be published by the committee.

“What’s in it for us?” asked Tim McNally with Waste Management.

Carriss replied that he believes the move would enable one of the haulers to get most of Shelby County’s solid waste business, explaining that once they submitted their quotes, those prices would be published in the newspaper – at the county’s expense – to give the public the option of choosing which company they wanted they would like to use. The committee asked that rates be submitted by May 19.

But as a whole, haulers were not very enthusiastic.

“If I’m the only one to participate and I publish my rates, and the competitors in the market [don’t], whether it’s this group or others, what’s to stop them from coming in and offering a dollar less a month than my services in order to steal my customers?” asked Angela Calvin, sales manager of Republic Services.

“No more so than there is right now,” said Carriss.

McNally noted that unless the plan was a mandatory one, the county would not be able to get good rates.

While the trash company representatives left a bit confused by the process, magistrates said they still think the idea is a good one – one that would encourage more competition among haulers, thereby driving their prices down.

“They’re barking because they know they’re going to be priced down, and there’s going to be people coming to them and saying, ‘Hey, if you want me to stay with you, this price I’m paying now ain’t going to fly,’” he said.

“But I think it will be really good for Shelby County,” said Carriss.

The request for these good faith prices, magistrates said, is just to provide transparency in the process.

“What we want is for people to have a clear understanding of what rates they could be paying for these services,” magistrate Michael Riggs said. “The only incentive you have to participate is that we are going to list these in the paper, so that people out there should know that if I am paying this much, then my neighbor should be paying this much.”

Magistrates provided haulers with informational packets on what things they should include in their services, such as backdoor collection for the handicapped and senior citizens, something that McNally said most haulers already offer.

While Simpsonville residents have a franchise agreement, Shelbyville city residents can take advantage of any quotes received by fiscal court.

The Shelbyville City Council had agreed previously to hold a first reading on a trash plan tomorrow, but instead the council has decided to wait.

“About the time we think we’re ready for first reading, we realize that we haven’t crossed all our t’s and dotted all our i’s,” Shelbyville Mayor Tom Hardesty said. “We’re continuing to study other people’s ordinances and contracts, and we have found a couple that sound pretty good, so it’s a work in progress.”