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Study: Extend trash pick-up throughout county

LAWRENCEVILLE - Despite an outcry from residents, consultants recommend county officials make trash pick-up mandatory for residents of the unincorporated area.

The study, which commenced after a judge threw out a solid waste management plan last year, also produced a recommendation that the county be divided into districts and the number of trash haulers be limited.

But Abby Goldsmith of R.W. Beck told commissioners Tuesday that they could choose more than one hauler per district, addressing the concerns of people who wanted the freedom to choose their garbage hauler while cutting down garbage trucks on the road and carts in the streets.

"It is an approach that allows some choice. It is a kind of middle ground," Goldsmith said, adding that a South Carolina county allows two haulers per district, while Los Angeles County in California has specialized service levels in 28 districts.

Goldsmith stopped short of recommending whether the county bill people on tax bills, which created a stir in the previous proposal, but she said that method would encourage more people to pay. Another method, she said, could be to use water bills, and if the county decides to allow more than one hauler, the franchisees could bill their customers directly.

The No. 1 priority for respondents, she said, was keeping costs low.

While an original report said a majority of people paid more than $24 a month for trash service, Goldsmith said her study put the amount closer to $15 a month, which is lower than the $17.86 monthly fee proposed for the new service last year.

"Opposition would be much less vocal about limiting the choice of hauler, if the price went down," she said.

The full report is due at the end of the month, and county commissioners said they were not ready to give an opinion on the solution.

Chairman Charles Bannister said the decision weighed as heavily as the court case looming, after the county was divided last year into six districts, but only two companies won bids.

The process, conducted by Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful, was thrown out in court, causing the county to extend its current operation of allowing residents to choose any vendor.

Goldsmith said the county must be cognizant of the court ruling, but she encouraged officials to continue to have a relationship with the nonprofit, which has a lot of resources to help with recycling.

Commissioner Kevin Kenerly said he wanted to talk to constituents before forming an opinion, as a limited number of county residents attended the eight public forums held this year.

Both he and Commissioner Bert Nasuti said the survey results that showed few people wanted the county to regulate trash service but a huge majority wanted officials to force people to recycle was interesting.

Bannister said he hoped to get the issue resolved by the end of the year.

"I think the county does have to move forward to get this thing out of the ditch and provide the services," he said. On the report, he added, "There's a lot of good information in there."