By KELLY DANIELS
Starkville residents will be able to keep receiving their free garbage bags.
The Starkville Board of Aldermen threw out a proposal Tuesday to investigate benefits of a new garbage container system that would include the distribution of 96-gallon carts storing individually-bought bags.
Ward 3 Alderman Eric Parker presented a “conservative” cost savings of $600,000 over a decade by permitting the city’s Environmental Services Department, which handles sanitation and recycling, to begin the switchover.
“We’ve had to pay $180,000 in workman’s comp claims over three years,” Parker added.
Costs of the new program would include retrofitting trucks, delivery of carts and possibly adding a new worker.
Commending the proposal, Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas called the amount of possible cost savings “astounding” and encouraged his fellow aldermen to explore those opportunities.
But the board made no motion to permit the sanitation staff to obtain more concrete cost measurements by proposing for bids on the carts.
Instead, members accepted a garbage bag bid of $4.19 a roll, topping last year’s $3.80-a-roll bid, by voting 4-2 with Parker and Dumas opposing.
“Our current system is not broken,” said Ward 6 Alderman Roy Á. Perkins, arguing that the sanitation services function perfectly.
Parker replied, arguing that he would feel irresponsible after voting against a tax increase without trying find ways to save the city funds.
Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn said that the city does not have to take after practices of other municipalities.
“What’s more important,” he said, “the citizens of Starkville or cost savings?”
Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver said that he’s normally willing to review a cost analysis, but his constituents oppose the idea.
“I haven’t got a call in support of it yet,” he said.
Vice Mayor Sandra Sistrunk, who supported Parker’s proposal two weeks ago, could not attend Tuesday’s meeting.
Local citizens collectively echoed Perkins’ opposition, bringing with them questions of enforcement and arguing that the elderly would have trouble pushing carts.
“Sometimes numbers don’t tell the whole story,” said Richard Mullenax, referring to Parker’s estimated cost savings.
Wayne Fondren, who criticized Parker’s proposal in a published letter, contended that there was no way “on God’s creation” the city would save money by switching to carts.
“Let the garbage alone,” he said.
Jim Mills also spoke against the cart system, calling carts “slop buckets.”
John Gaskin said that if officials wanted to save money they could stop distributing free garbage bags.
“Just because it’s cheaper doesn’t mean it’s better,” he argued.