As the City of Augusta begins the process of changing its sanitation service to automated pickup, the staff has identified pilot areas where testing will begin this summer.
About one-sixth of the city's residential customers will be included in the two pilot areas. Area One is east of Ohio between Arnold and David streets. Area Two is east of State Street north of Broadway, south of 12th and west of Johnson.
At Monday's council meeting, the governing body will decide what size trash receptacle – 65 or 95 gallon – and what type of container will be used for recycling.
Josh Shaw, Assistant to the City Manager, told the council at a work session this week that the company who will accept the city's recycling materials would provide a single stream – not separated by material – method but not if the materials are bagged.
The decision of what type of recycle container may be used will also face the council Monday night.
But the biggest part of the discussion included the annual city-wide clean-up.
The council heard discussion about the clean-up week that used to feature curb-side pickup but transitioned to a few weeks of allowing citizens to bring their own larger items to the city dump.
This process is better than the curb-side pick-up but it is still costly to the city due to the number of staff allocated to the process and the large amount of waste that is taken to the landfill.
"For our size, we produce a lot more waste during that program," City Manager Bill Keefer said. "It is a lot more than other cities our size."
One option staff brought to the council was a coupon method that would allow residents to transfer their own waste to the dump a few times each year using a coupon. The city would still be charged for the waste at the landfill, but no employees would be affected and the residents could do it anytime that was convenient to them.
The other option before the council was to continue as the city has, accepting materials at the dump and hauling it to the landfill.
Councilor Matt Malone said with the number of changes taking place in the sanitation service already, he was concerned about adding another major change that takes away more benefits from residents.
Councilor Mike Wallace disagreed.
"I'm an old farm kid," Wallace said. "I took care of all of my own mess."
Huddleston pointed out that "farm kids" don't pay a monthly sanitation bill and residents aren't allowed to burn trash in their yards.
"I understand the higher cost," Councilor Mike Huddleston said. "But we started this to provide a service to residents. The municipal pool never breaks even, but we still offer that each year. Are we deciding on pure cost or is this a service we provide?"
Page 2 of 2 - When Mayor Kristey Williams polled the council to see which method was preferable so that staff could develop a proposal to be considered at Monday's regular meeting, the six members present were split down the middle with all of them seeing benefits to both plans.
"I get that staying in town is more convenient," Wallace said. "But it is also more convenient to do it whenever I want to and not just during those three weeks."
Ron Reavis and Matt Childers both missed the work session due to work commitments.
The council decided to place both methods on the agenda and let the full council decide at the official meeting on Jan. 21 at 7 p.m. in City Hall.