Sunday, August 30, 2009

Councilman Speaks Out on Trash

Below are the thoughts of Dunwoody City Councilman Robert Wittenstein on the city's future sanitation services. Apparently DeKalb County is only required to provide services for the first two years of city hood. Mayor Ken Wright, in a column printed in The Crier, explained how it will work after that. Said the mayor, "after the two years are up, the county will be like every other private contractor we contract with, in that the services offered will be negotiated with no legislation, rules or cap on charges. That means we have until November 30, 2010 to sign a contract with a sanitation provider with acceptable terms and service." The mayor says there will be no legislation or rules, so I'm guessing that means that DeKalb County is not required to continue services with Dunwoody like it does for other incorporated areas of the county (Perhaps I wasn't listening, but I never heard anyone mention the possibility of losing DeKalb County Sanitation in the lead-up to the vote on becoming a city).
Like Councilman Wittenstein, I'm all for keeping DeKalb services, provided the county doesn't decide to gouge us. And Robert - thanks for sharing your thoughts (Councilman Shortal does likewise and Councilman Heneghan has a blogsite). I wish the rest of the council would do the same.

Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,
It is time to talk about trash. First, let me say that, like most of you, I am very happy with the sanitation service I get from DeKalb County. Let me also say that our evaluation of sanitation alternatives isn’t some tactic to pressure DeKalb in any way. No one is pushing to get rid of DeKalb sanitation.
I must say that my thoughts on this subject have shifted a bit as we have started to move through the process. At the beginning, I felt like there was a reasonable chance that we could improve the service a bit, lower the cost a bit, and perhaps even provide some revenue to the city to help keep property taxes low. This wasn’t because there were any nagging complaints with DeKalb’s service; it is because I’m always looking for ways to improve things. As my children or my co-workers will tell you, I’m not easily satisfied. I look to improve everything.
I like the sanitation workers who have been picking up our garbage for years and I bring them bottled water on hot summer days. The potential cost savings come from the fact that labor is the largest expense in DeKalb’s sanitation service. If the three-person crew can be replaced by a driver and an automated system where identical (provided) trash cans can be auto-loaded with a robotic arm, then substantial cost savings may be possible.
I’ve now come to the conclusion that DeKalb’s sanitation service is like a comfortable pair of blue jeans or a favorite tool. Sure you can buy a replacement, and it might be newer, but it just won’t be the same. Our sanitation service from the county is very comfortable and there is no compelling reason to change.
We are going to have three public meetings at City Hall to seek input and I encourage you all to attend one or more meetings. The first one will be on Thursday, September 17 at 7:00 pm. It will provide information on several area plans including DeKalb, Chamblee, Stone Mountain and Sandy Springs—followed by public comment.
The second meeting will provide an overview of the research completed by the Dunwoody Sustainability Commission comparing and contrasting cities and counties and how they handle sanitation and recycling services followed by public comment. That meeting will be on Wednesday, September 23 at 10:00 am.
The third meeting will take place on Tuesday, September 29 at 7:00 pm and it will be a forum type meeting with a moderator. There will be several five minute presentations from private haulers bringing in bin/containers to allow residents to touch and feel options. The Georgia Recycling Coalition and Keep DeKalb Beautiful organizations will also make presentations. A Q&A session and public comment period will follow.
If you are happy with the service we have from DeKalb today, rest assured that I share your sentiment. I’ll try to keep an open mind as we go through the process, but an alternative would have to be much, much better before I would support changing what we have today.


Robert Wittenstein
Dunwoody City Council
Home Phone: 770-396-4747


Rick Callihan said...

A 'Danny Ross' blog would be awesome.

Bob Fiscella said...

It certainly would be interesting reading this week! By the way, do tell on the local reporter who got a ticket - I'm guessing I know this person!