Trash woes: Enforcement could be the answer

Published 10:05 pm Thursday, July 10, 2014

Two of Advanced Disposal’s three trucks responsible for Coffee County pick up broke down this week. By Thursday, the company was completely caught up.

While Pike County continues to address trash pick up complaints from residents and nonpayment complaints from AD, neither has been a major issue in neighboring Coffee County.

Advanced Disposal Services serves customers outside the corporate city limits of Enterprise and Elba. It amounts to about 6,000 households, twice as many as Pike County.

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There are non-paying customers amongst the bunch. And there are customers who have complained about their service. Neither the complaints nor the non-paying customers come in direct contact with Advanced Disposal Services. All issues come to Dean Blair, Coffee County’s Solid Waste Enforcement Officer.

“I work to ensure three things basically and that’s compliance; I handle complaints … I ensure that the contract with Advanced Disposal is carried out; and I handle collection,” said Blair.

The Coffee County Commission paid Advanced Disposal for its services and the county bills its customers. Residents receive a bill for $48 every January, April, July and October.

The county employs two clerks who accept payments and send out bills. Blair remains out in the field. He knocks on doors for collections and checks that every residence is signed up for the mandatory trash pick-up.

“We still have issues with people not paying,” he said. “We just went about it from a different approach.”

For the worst nonpaying cases, Blair files a small claims lawsuit. He said he has probably had at least 50 cases. There are others who have not paid, but he does a few at a time to avoid overwhelming the court.

Blair said most people pay on or before their court date.

Pike County gave up the trash business because non-paying customers were causing a major deficit. “What happened is the delinquency in participation, in people not getting cans and the delinquency in payment of the fees, resulted in enormous financial losses to the county to the point that it became necessary for the collection and disposal service to be handled by an independent service,” said County Attorney Allen Jones.

The county’s solid waste enforcement officer position changed once the person who held it retired.

“When that job was originally created, the county had waste management,” said Harry Sanders, Pike County Administrator. “It’s not the same job it used to be. It’s not a department head anymore. Now it’s solid waste and animal control.”

The officer deals with illegal dumping but does not handle noncompliance or complaints.

Blair said many of Pike County’s issues could be solved by a solid waste enforcement officer with his responsibilities.

“This is nothing more than an opinion from an enforcement officer,” he said. “When customers call with complaints, they know someone will come out and handle it. It’s just staying on top of problems and addressing issues as they arise.”