Atlas Twp. board to hear resident input on trash collection service

ATLAS TWP. — The Atlas Township Board of Trustees will have a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 15, to receive residents’ input on a proposal to switch trash collection providers.

The change, which could cost residents an additional $69 per year, comes on the heels of multiple complaints about the current vendor, Emterra Environmental.

The complaints include issues such as missed collections, recycling thrown in the waste truck, spilled debris, and damage to lawns caused when trucks go off the road.

The complaints are common across communities and service providers, who have said that some of the problems are the fault of residents putting trash out too late, or placing non-recyclable items, such as pizza boxes and polystyrene, in with the recycling.

“There are a host of complaints,” said township Supervisor Shirley Kautman-Jones. “However, the gentleman who is our contact service person does a great job of trying to resolve the situation.

“We’re not beating up companies; it’s not going to be a bash session. It’s just to find out if people are willing to pay more and probably go to a cart system.”

Township officials solicited bids from three other vendors, but only two – Republic Services and Community Disposal – responded.

No decision has been made regarding which, if either, of the two would likely receive the contract.

“Until we know if residents are willing to increase their special assessment by $69, it’s a moot point,” Kautman-Jones said.

The township currently assesses $125 per year per improved parcel for trash and recycling. Yard waste collection is not provided. Commercial customers must contract for their own waste collection.

The $69 is an estimate based on discussions with service providers and officials in other area communities that those vendors serve, she said.

Besides the cost, township officials also are concerned about residents’ reactions to the possibility of having to haul large bins full of waste to the curb.

“Everybody resents change, change is hard for people to take,” Kautman-Jones said.

She added that carts are “more efficient and a better way to collect and hold the trash until pickup day.”

“The communities we’ve talked to, they love it,” she said. “And that’s kind of the movement of companies, to reduce injuries to their labor.”

Kautman-Jones said she understands the last 20 months have been tough with COVID-19 and staff shortages, and she understands that no one is perfect and mistakes will be made, but she’s concerned that she has trouble reaching anyone at Emterra headquarters and that the company does not seem to have a disaster plan.

“The idea that a company of that size, that provides service to that many communities, does not have a disaster plan is a little alarming,” she said.

“We’re elected to represent a community, and we have had a lot of comments from people asking us to look at other service providers.”