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Multiple bidders seek city garbage contract

Another step will be taken tonight toward the possible privatizing of a service the city of Mount Airy has handled in-house for many years: residential garbage collections.

This comes on the heels of municipal officials issuing, in late June, a request for proposals from companies with an interest in taking over that operation.

Three bids were received by a deadline that originally was set for July 31 but later extended by one week to Aug. 7.

Interim City Manager Darren Lewis and Mitch Williams, public works director, both said after those bids were solicited that the next step would involve reviewing the proposals in detail.

“We are still going through them and getting clarifications from the bidders,” Williams added last week.

The process is now to the point that Williams is scheduled to present a sanitation update today during a 6 p.m. meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.

However, an agenda for the meeting indicates that the matter likely will only be discussed, with no decision made by the board to contract with an outside garbage service.

Trash trend

The possible shift from municipal to private garbage pickups at Mount Airy homes is the latest in a series of major measures that began in January 2021 with a city decision to acquire two automated sanitation trucks.

While the new vehicles cost $760,000, officials said the move would pay for itself over time through salary and benefit savings.

That is possible due to replacing the need for workers to physically empty trash containers with the automated process.

In early May of this year, members of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners questioned the increasing cost of the municipal curbside recycling program in place since 2012.

Instead of once being paid for recyclables, Mount Airy now is facing a hefty expense for that service.

That is reflected by action in May, when a new materials-handling contract was approved, to begin paying a company known as Green For Life (GFL) $75 per ton to haul away local recyclables collected by municipal sanitation personnel.

Some commissioners said that with the total annual cost of the program now at $175,000, some measures might be explored to reduce that revenue output — or eliminate it altogether.

That same desire to cut expenses, with lean budget years anticipated in the near future, is what prompted the city government to explore the potential privatization of its residential garbage collections.

This process was aimed at examining whether having an outside provider to handle the residential garbage/recycling pickups would be “less expensive than us running our own trash department,” Mayor Jon Cawley has said.

So far officials have discussed only the residential garbage component and not industrial or business pickups.



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