San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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January 1st, 2008
Garbage in, garbage out

Managing Editor

Four years ago, downtown business leaders decided to look for ways to clear clusters of Dumpsters behind bars, stores and offices and cut down on the number of trash trucks barreling down narrow alleyways.

As many as six trash disposal companies provide pickup services to San Marcos businesses and institutions. Unlike residential customers who use the city’s chosen contractor — since 2003 it’s been Texas Disposal Systems — commercial customers in town are free to chose from any provider who agrees to give the city a cut of its haul here in the form of a street use fee.

Property owners like Lupe Carbajal thought it made sense to consider settling on a single provider and consolidating pickup spots for downtown merchants.

Presentation on trash services from Dec. 4 city council meeting [.pdf] Letter from Allied Waste Services [.pdf]

“What we got when we tried it was nothing but hell. No one wanted to change and it didn’t get very far,” Carbajal told the city council in December when they took up a proposal for a single commercial trash services provider for the entire town. “If you try it, you’re going to catch holy hell, too — citywide.”

For council members, the warning about came too late.

In July, the council gave the go ahead to city management to prepare for a five-year extension of TDS’ residential trash services contract as allowed in the original contract set to expire in June 2008. At the same time, the council authorized then-City Manager Dan O’Leary to negotiate an extension of TDS’ franchise to cover commercial trash customers as well as residential. If negotiated as part of the contract extension, the change could have been made without seeking bids from other providers. Rolling commercial accounts into the agreement would help offset expected increases in residential rates as well and allow expansion of recycling property to apartment complexes, O’Leary said.

“There are good reasons why we want to consider this. In most cases, commercial customers are going to be paying less now than they are currently are based on the numbers I’ve seen,” O’Leary told the council Dec. 4 during his last meeting before leaving for his new job in Flower Mound.

His presentation reiterated another of proponents’ arguments for switching to a single franchisee for commercial customers including lucrative haul-off jobs on construction sites. “We suspect there are trash companies doing business in San Marcos that we don’t know about and aren’t paying anything.”

In 2003, many business owners protested when the city briefly considered requiring them to use a single solid waste collection provider who bills through the city. An ordinance adopted then requires commercial hauler — there are currently five permitted to operate on city streets — to pay five percent of their gross revenue each quarter in the form of a “street use” fee.

But other companies like Allied Waste Services, which pays thousands each quarter in street use fees, urged council members to either leave the status quo alone or open the process up for bidding.

“Allied Waste Services has dutifully paid the required franchise fees to the city. …AWS is willing to administer whatever franchise fee the city feels is appropriate and our records are open for your inspection at any time to confirm our compliance with its terms,” Steven R. Shannon, the company’s municipal waste services manager wrote council members in a letter that also pointed out that Allied’s central and south Texas district office is located here.

Allied collected nearly 100 letters from its customers protesting the commercial provision of TDS’ contract. In the end, council members decided to forgo the commercial question for now.

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5 thoughts on “Garbage in, garbage out

  1. Pingback: QUOTE OF THE DAY : Newstreamz

  2. I love what TDS is about another well established company such as the PEC that is doing great in this community and well respected and appreciated. However I don’t think the city should concern itself into policing trash pick up companies for money purposed. Seriously how many trash companies that we dont know about that aren’t paying San Marcos? I would like to know who they suspect.

  3. The headline is inflammatory, but the article is quite factual. I don’t understand the disconnect and hope Newstreamz is headed for the high road, not the low road. Prompting conflict is not productive. I believe the use of one commercial dumpster contractor would be very beneficial since the bad placement, lack of graffitti control on dumpsters, rusty and crummy looking dumpsters, and so many trucks cruising the alleys and street is bad for the community and the streets. Graffitti spreads to walls of businesses, houses, fences and damages property values if left on the dumpsters for years, as it is if citizens do not raise cain or paint it out themselves. I’m tired of carrying so many colors of spray paint in my car to deal with so many different colors of dumpsters. TDS runs a tight ship, gives good service to residences, gives back to the community in many ways, and has an environmentally sound landfill San Marcos can be proud to use. The businesses who do not like the idea of one contractor for their dumpsters are prompted by the companies in danger of losing the dumpster contracts, and so they are NOT getting the full story from those who push them to complain. Their costs are very likely to go down with one carrier. We need the facts on all this, and your article makes that point. Thank you for that. I would HOPE that local businesses would want the community to look better and cleaner so that we would be attractive for new business and residents. It is time to look at this, and I appreciate Council looking at this. Dianne Wassenich

  4. It would be advantageous for the look of our down town to have uniform dumpsters and fewer trucks on the streets and alleyways . The city, however, should open up the process for bidding. Dan O’Leary stated that most commercial users will pay less and that recycling will be more available which are benefits. The city, however, should not be interested only in the better deal, it should be focused on obtaining the best deal.

  5. Pingback: Single commercial trash vendor back on table : Newstreamz

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