Oxford looks into privatizing sanitation services

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- It will be at least another month before the Oxford City Council will decide if the city will privatize its sanitation department.

The council got a first look at bids Monday night for private services.

Last month, Oxford Mayor Jerry Roseberry expressed his interest in looking into privatizing the services, as two of four sanitation workers have recently retired.

The city received six bids from its advertised Request for Proposals, which included using current city 95-gallon containers and 35-gallon recycling containers. Bids included Active for $7.90 per can; Advanced Disposal for $11.99; Latham Home Sanitation for $13.95; Republic Services for $11.95; Select Sanitation for $12; and Waste Management for $14.

Interim City Administrator Clark Miller said each of the companies' references were checked and came back positive. He added that Advanced removed its bid because it didn't have the required single axle trucks, and Republic has its own landfill so the city wouldn't have to pay fees to the Newton County landfill.

Some residents are not so sure about the change.

"We know the costs to the city are going to increase," said resident Claude Sitton, adding that the private companies might give good prices the first year and then inflate them.

"I wish you would look at the cost and the benefits in a realistic way," said another resident David Eady. "We are giving up a good bit of control by privatizing."

Roseberry said privatizing the services could save the city nearly $175,000 per year, not including vehicle costs.

In 2010, the city collected about $139,000 for garbage collection and paid nearly $103,000 in payroll and benefits for the two now-retired employees, as well as about $16,500 for landfill costs, which resulted in a net of about $20,000.

If the city collects $139,000 this year and pays about $83,500 for a private contractor -- given 580 containers cost about $12 each -- then the city will net more than $55,000.

Given the difference of more than $55,000, as well as the landfill reduction costs of about $16,500 and employee cost reduction of nearly $103,000, Roseberry said the net change in cash flow to the city would be nearly $175,000.

The council expects to discuss more details at its March 21 work session, which is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in City Hall. The regular session monthly meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 4.

"I have many unanswered questions," said councilman George Holt.

Whatever the result, Roseberry said he doesn't expect citizens to pay more than the $20 per month that they currently pay with the change.

Citizens also will continue to receive garbage pickup once a week and recycling once a week; the city will continue to collect yard waste.