Holidays, repairs delay garbage pickup

Published 11:13 pm Monday, December 13, 2010

Broken garbage and trash trucks, loose leaves and holidays have the Selma Public Works Department running behind schedule most days.

The Selma City Council Public Works Committee met Monday night with Mayor George Evans and department supervisor Tommy Smith to discuss how to get the job done effectively.

The city purchased three new trash trucks, a curbside garbage truck, a mini excavator and a sewer camera out of the bond issue approved last year by voters. The Public Works Department has received all of the equipment, Smith said.

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The city also has two other automated garbage trucks.

“The automated garbage trucks were down, but both of them are up and running,” Smith said. “The backup is down, but it’s in the shop to be repaired. So, we’ve got two automated garbage trucks running.”

Last week a cylinder broke on one of the trucks, so workers took a cylinder from another truck for repair and ordered a replacement cylinder. Smith said he notifies the company, so he doesn’t void the warranty on the new truck.

The other option is to take the garbage truck down to Mobile for repair. “That would put us further behind,” Smith said.

“The only thing we’ve got down now is the overhead loader that do the dumpsters, so we’re working to empty some of the dumpsters tomorrow in all the areas that the dumpsters are at at this time,” he added.

Employees of the department were out Friday night because an axle broke on the overhead loader, which dumps all the garbage bins in the city, Smith told the committee.

“We were out picking up dumpsters after we got that repaired,” he said, “and we have a drive-shaft link that broke the same evening, so it’s down.”

Evans suggested to the committee the city search for and hire a heavy duty truck mechanic, who is licensed and certified. The city spent $100,000 last year on outsourcing repairs.

“We might can save some money. I don’t know that for a fact,” the mayor said, “but this is just killing us, those trucks break down so often.”

Additionally, most residents do not bag their leaves as required by city ordinance, but place them loosely on the side of the road. This causes a delay for the trash trucks, said Smith, because workers sweep up the leaves and put them in the trucks.

The committee generally decided to give residents until after Jan. 1 to get in the habit of bagging their leaves. After Jan. 1, workers on the trash trucks will not rake up leaves.

“If they’re not in bags, they won’t be picked up and then you can deal with code enforcement,” said Councilwoman Susan Keith of Ward 2. “I know that puts another burden on code enforcement, but when people get slapped with fines, they’ll start doing that.”

Residents may place limbs at the curbside without breaking, bunching and binding them with twine.

Smith said during leaf season during the fall of the year his department gets behind. “Then when you add holidays in there, you just get further behind,” he said.

Plans are under way to place garbage bins in special places for dumping boxes and other trash over the Christmas holidays. Those plans are expected to be announced Tuesday when the council meets at 6 p.m. at City Hall.