Three trash haulers expect to stay in business

LAWRENCEVILLE - All three trash companies terminated by Gwinnett County this week said they intend to reapply for the ability to pick up waste in Gwinnett and expect no lulls in service as they begin the process again.

Residential haulers Red Oak Sanitation and Quality Waste Services and commercial hauler JC Roadrunner have until March 31 to stop picking up garbage in the county, according to Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful Director Connie Wiggins.

But owners of the two residential companies said they expect their new applications will be approved before that deadline, allowing them to continue to collect garbage from the 14,000 or so Gwinnett customers they serve. In all, there are 140,000 garbage customers in the county.

All three companies were terminated because they did not pay a required bond, which was doubled from last year to this year. The owners said because they are small haulers, they had more difficulty than some large companies trying to get the $150,000 bond, but that payment was on the way.

"We're in the process of getting it all accomplished," Quality Waste owner Richard Watson said. "We don't have millions of dollars. For us, it's like an act of Congress to get something that big."

Wiggins said the county had not received applications from the haulers as of Tuesday afternoon. The application, which includes a $500 fee and the required bonds and insurance, takes about six weeks to complete.

Watson said his company has been operating in Gwinnett for about seven years, with few complaints. Stub Luce, who owns Red Oak Sanitation, said that company has been operating for a similar amount of time.

Luce said he found someone who will provide the necessary bonds and hopes his application will be heard by county commissioners in March. The county is required to allow any collector who meets the requirements to operate in Gwinnett, he said.

"Hopefully, we'll put a calming voice out there to the residents after all the excitement Gwinnett created yesterday for no apparent reason," he said. "There should be no lapse in service."

Maty Juarez, the office manager for JC Roadrunner, also said that company was working to get the proper information in to the county. Juarez said a reporter's questions Tuesday were the first she had heard of the company's termination.

Prior to being terminated, Quality Waste got few complaints, Watson said. Roy Davison, a resident of the Stone Leigh subdivision, said most of the development's 91 homes use Red Oak and are pleased with the service.

"We really like this company," he said. "They're exceptional people."

The three companies' terminations had nothing to do with the county's new trash plan, which is being considered now by the Atlanta Regional Commission and the state Department of Community Affairs. That plan would divide the county into eight districts and allow companies to bid on individual districts.

But Watson said he did make a decision to stop picking up trash in some areas of the county where he has little business in response to the new plan, which should go into effect in 2009.

Those households received letters that their trash service would stop Feb. 1, Watson said, so he wouldn't have to worry about pulling all of those residents' trash cans at once at the end of the year. The decision was made to keep the company from growing, then having to pull out of a district, he said.

As far as the county is concerned, the haulers are required to refund customers for any payment they made past March 31. Residents normally contract with a company for three months at a time at a cost of $13 to $15 a month, Wiggins said.

A list of approved haulers in the county can be found by calling 770-822-5186 and pressing option two, or at www.gwinnettcb.org.

For questions about the termination, call Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful at 770-822-5187, the Gwinnett County Licensing and Revenue Manager at 678-377-4101 or the Gwinnett County Treasury Division Director at 770-822-7819.