Doraville Trash Service
This was one of the hardest votes I have made in a while. I came into the meeting thinking I was going to vote no. But by the time of the vote, and some concessions were made, I ended up voting yes and here is why I did:
The first problem I had with the contract was DeKalb County insists on being the sole source vendor for commercial trash service if you choose them to do your residential service. Because this is an intergovernmental agreement, this is legal to do. But to me this doesn't feel fair and blocks private companies from being able to compete in this space. I really had a hard time with this part of the decision. One could argue that having one vendor alleviates traffic and pollution of multiple different trash trucks servicing the commercial area, but it still bothers me.
Then I had to think about the larger problem Doraville has been dealing with for at least a decade has been bulk goods pickup. Last fall the city council decided this problem of furniture, mattresses and appliances being put out at the curb in residential neighborhoods, and not being picked up for many times 8-12 weeks, was a serious problem. The current trash service requires residents to call in this type of pickup. Clearly that isn't working and our city is littered with junk sitting out on the curb. It's the #1 complain to the code enforcement office, so something needs to be done.
Fast forward to last summer to budget creation time and the question came up about the billing for residential trash service. We were told there is no way these bulk good can be "automatically picked up without a called in scheduled pickup" for the rates residents were paying. And in fact, we would have to raise the rates just for the current level of service. I agreed to go ahead and raise the trash fee to $300 a year if this would include picking up bulk goods.
Before the meeting tonight, I read the proposed contract and nothing in it specifically stated they would pick up most bulk goods without a scheduled call in, nor did it even define what bulk good vs "special pickup" items are. I've dealt with many contracts in my life and I know if it isn't in writing, any verbal agreement is worthless and their contract even states this fact in it. After some back and forth with the city manager, she agreed to put specific
language into the contract stating that these problematic bulk goods, that are blighting our city, can simply be put out at the curb and the trash company will pick them up.
At this point I had to weigh how long we have waited to get this problem resolved, the impact to the commercial vendors and businesses vs improving our neighborhoods and fixing this big problem we have with all this trashy junk sitting out at the curb for sometimes months at a time. At least for next year, I felt this was the best solution. If they don't pick this stuff up like they are contracted for or there are other issues, this summer we can give them notice 180 days out we don't want to use them in 2021 and can put this back out for bid, which is something we might want to do anyway.
Like I said, this was a hard decision I'm not 100% comfortable with but not every vote is easy. Politically it might have been better to just vote no, but I will always vote for what I think is best for our city.