The City of Augusta’s sanitation pilot program isn’t going exactly as planned.
When the city faced the fact that new sanitation trucks were going to be needed soon, a committee was formed to discuss potential changes to the service. After more than a year of discussion and debate, the council voted to keep the service within the city but move to automated trucks and the same trash carts for every customer.
In an effort to make the transition smooth, the city wanted to put a pilot program in place where a representative area of the city could make the transition first. That way, the kinks in the system could be worked out before implementing the new program across all 3,500 sanitation customers.
But that program hit a snag recently, when no trucks have been found that are available to rent. The city might be able to get a demonstration truck for one month, but City Manager Bill Keefer said that 30 days would not allow sufficient time to check the system.
Because of that, Mike Rawlings made a motion to begin the process to lease/purchase a truck to begin the program. The city does not have the funds to purchase a truck, but the money is available for the lease purchase.
Councilor Matt Malone was concerned about this major investment because he understood the program was to test the possibility of moving Augusta to an automated system.
“I thought we were doing the pilot program to see if this was feasible,” Malone said. “Now we’re going to buy a truck?’
Keefer said the automated system works in every other city and he didn’t see a reason to believe it wouldn’t work in Augusta.
Mayor Kristey Williams said it was her opinion that the council had decided to go this direction and if a truck was available to rent, she thought a lease purchase plan was the next best option.
Councilor Matt Childers seconded Rawlings’ motion to request bids on the lease/purchase of a truck because just because the council receives bids, it doesn’t mean that they have to accept one.
The measure passed 4-2 with Malone and Mike Martin voting no. Ward 2 Councilors Mike Wallace and Mike Huddleston were not at Monday’s meeting.
It could take up to six months to get a truck even if the council approves one of the bids.
The council went on to decide to order black trash carts for the pilot program and will choose a different color for r