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Chambers County seeking new bids for solid waste disposal

Chambers County’s three-year garbage pickup contract with Advanced Disposal will soon come to an end. Captain Jason Fuller, code enforcement department head, was at the Chambers County Commission meeting Monday night to address the need for a contract renewal and discuss qualms that county residents and commissioners have with their current contractor.

Nine companies have an interest in providing trash collection for the county, Fuller said, and calls for bids will be sent out soon. Several commissioners and Commission Chair David Eastridge made it clear that whoever the contract was awarded to should be willing to do the job correctly.

“Over the years I have heard complaints, even when it was the company before the one we have now, about pickup,” Commissioner James Williams said. “I have gotten numerous calls here recently about the problem. I want to make sure that with the word you’ve got out there that we’ve got a competitive market.”

Commissioners said Advanced Disposal is allegedly not filing complaints with the county, varies the times at which it picks up trash and sometimes fails to pick up trash on some roads completely.

Eastridge, Williams and Commissioner Doug Jones all said their garbage was not collected on some days. Every commissioner said that they had received complaints about Advanced Disposal from disgruntled citizens.

“As long as we have been dealing with this, I have never gone through a year without complaints about the sanitation pickup,” Eastridge said. “We can always drop the bid. The problem you have is who is going to pick up. Who is going to drop in within 90 days or whatever and say ‘yeah we’ve got it.”

Macy Whorton, administrative assistant for several departments in Chambers County, said that while the current contract states that complaints to Advanced Disposal should also be relayed to the Solid Waste Department, the contractor has failed to do so since the contract began.

“Although our contract says that [Advanced Disposal] is supposed to notify our office… once a week through email of all the complaints they have gotten that week, I have only been here three years but I have never, ever gotten that,” she said.

Whorton’s concern was that while Advanced Disposal is a private entity, the customers throughout the county depend on the Solid Waste Department as a kind of liaison between them and the contractor. Since there has been no communication between Advanced Disposal and the county, residents have been out of luck when problems arise.

“If the customers do not call and let our office know, we don’t know that there is a problem,” Whorton said. “There could be hundreds of complaints that we don’t know about because the customer directly called Advanced, which it says in the contract they are supposed to notify us about.”

County Attorney Skip McCoy said that the commission has tried to avoid trash pickup problems before but ran into issues when it came to how much customers were willing to pay.

“We have considered a one-year contract to see how they would do instead of going with three years, but you don’t get as good of bids as when they are locked in for a certain period of time,” he said. “There is a balance there.”

McCoy reminded the public that the county receives no kickback from what contractors are paid, meaning that it is within the commissions’ best interest to find the best workers for the best.

“The commission tries to get that price as low as possible for the customers because there is no windfall for the county, no cream off the top, the county doesn’t make any money out of it,” he said.

The commission unanimously voted to send out calls for bids. In coming months, those bid offers will be reviewed and a contract awarded to the one they feel is best for Chambers County.

Advanced Disposal was not available for comment as of Tuesday evening.