Council talking trash

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 20, 2005

Milteer insists the city hasn’t delivered on its promise to provide automated trash pickup in the southern end

By Andy Prutsok

Whaleyville area residents will not be receiving free 90-gallon trash bins from the city anytime soon. They will, however, have an opportunity to learn why at a public meeting Councilman Curtis R. Milteer Sr. agreed to host.

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City Council heard a briefing on trash collection at its work session last week.

City Manager R. Steven Herbert arranged for Public Works Director Eric Nielsen to give council the briefing after persistent questioning by Milteer, who claimed Whaleyville area residents were promised new receptacles when the automated trash collection system was set up five years ago.

Nielsen said that automated collection is efficient only in the densely populated areas of the city.

The city currently operates eight automated trucks and eight conventional trucks, which are used for rural trash collection.

Nielsen said it just doesn’t make economic sense for the city to extend

automated service to rural areas because of reduced productivity.

He noted that the automated trucks can collect between 800 and 850 receptacles a day employing one person on a truck. Between 500 and 550 cans a day can be collected the traditional way with three people on a truck. Using the automated system in rural areas reduces productivity to 375 to 450 cans a day, he said.

Milteer said he wasn’t buying it.

&uot;The citizens in the southern part of the city feel they are being ignored,&uot; Milteer said. &uot;That promise has not bee fulfilled.&uot;

While he couldn’t say who made the promise, Milteer claimed that Whaleyville residents were promised automated receptacles when the system was put in.

&uot;We need to come back fair and square and say ‘Look, let’s do it. If it takes us all night to dump the cans, let’s have them out there.’&uot; He said.

City manager Steve Herbert said he was unaware of any promise other than that residents would be offered cans when automated service extends to their area. Those cans will be free to long-time residents, but newcomers will have to pay for them if there is not one at the house they buy or rent. Herbert said that policy was consistent with other Hampton Roads communities.

Several council members praised the city’s trash collection efforts.

&uot;I think trash collection in this city is awesome. I don’t have any complaints,&uot; Councilwoman Linda T. Johnson said, suggesting the city do something to educate people on what will and will not be picked up.

Nielsen offered to conduct a public meeting for Whaleyville area residents to explain city code. Milteer said he would organize the meeting and attend. No date was set.