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A question of fairness? Nov. 16, 2005

I see Suffolk City Council is once again talking about the possibility of expanding automated refuse collection to the entire city.

This was something Council member Curtis Milteer brought up earlier in the year, prompting a presentation on the program by Public Works Director Eric Nielsen at a council work session.

At that time, Nielsen said, basically, that it was not cost effective to bring the service (where the big trucks come up, pick up the big green cans on wheels with huge arms and empty them before placing them back down) to rural areas where residents are spread out.

According to a memo from City Manager Steve Herbert to council members, the economics haven’t changed. It’s still a bad idea.

According to a July 1 letter from Herbert to council members, weekly curbside collection is currently provided to 28,000 collection points in the city, with 21,000 of them now being served by the automated service.

Adding service to all would require approximately 7,000 containers at a cost of $280,000. In addition, 3 new automated trucks would have to be added at a cost of $570,000. That means it would cost a total of $850,000 to implement Mr. Milteer’s dreams.

That’s a lot of money. What’s more, it would be less efficient than the current non-automated system serving the rural areas, according to Herbert.

It simply does not make sense.

Milteer claimed that people of the former Nansemond County were promised this service and it’s never been delivered. Herbert denies that any city official ever made such a promise.

I don’t know about that, but it doesn’t seem like it should be something that should be taking up a lot of the city’s time unless they can snap their fingers and make that money appear out of thin air.

Personally, I rarely think about how my trash gets taken away, just as long as it does. If it’s one guy pulling a wagon, that’s fine with me.

I guess Milteer’s point is that all us &uot;city slickers&uot; got free, fancy trash cans and that rural folk should get them, too.

Nobody ever told me life was fair. In fact, I’ve found pretty much the opposite to be true over my 44 years.

I’m all for fairness when it comes to things like job opportunities, our justice system, etc. and believe that as the founders said, we were all created equally. I just don’t think equality of trash collection was their original intent and I for one am not interested in squandering money that could got to higher teacher and public safety salaries, or otherwise benefit downtown residents, to achieve it.

I jest of course…but not really.

I suppose some city official promised Milteer life was fair. Could be.