It’s been nearly two months since yard debris was picked up at Dana Kemp’s home.
“It’s more than just they are behind. Everywhere around town it’s piling up,” she said. “Where there are little piles, they become big piles.”
She’s not the only one who’s noticed.
Reports made through Macon-Bibb County customer service and SeeClickFix, an app and website where residents can report issues, have risen from an average of 100-150 to about 200 reports per week, said Chris Floore, assistant to the county manager for public affairs. There are also about 400 calls a week coming into Solid Waste regarding garbage and yard debris pickup.
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“The majority of calls we’re getting right now are about yard waste pickup,” Floore said in an email.
There are various factors impacting slower debris pick up, including a wetter spring and summer and the need for more resources, officials said.
One reason it’s taking longer to collect yard debris is because there is significantly more waste.
In July, there were 200,000 more pounds of debris across Macon-Bibb compared to July of last year, Advanced Disposal District Manager Jarod Lovett said.
Then, there is lack of resources. With the county having fewer trucks to run routes, Advanced Disposal is stretching its manpower to assist with debris pick up beyond what it’s contracted to perform, Lovett said.
In 2016, major changes were made to solid waste collections as a new countywide recycling program was implemented and the county contracted with Advanced Disposal for some services. The private contractor picks up weekly garbage and up to two cubic yards (roughly the size of a dryer) of yard debris per residence.
Macon-Bibb’s Solid Waste Department picks up recycling, excess yard debris and bulkier waste such as mattresses.
“We’re doing more work with the same trucks ... with 200,000 more pounds in one month and Macon-Bibb pulling four or five trucks off the streets, that’s why we’re running behind,” Lovett said.
The Solid Waste Department has been impacted by a county hiring freeze. And an aging fleet means frequent repairs are needed to get trucks back out on the road.
“As soon as one gets fixed another breaks down,” Floore said. “We have to invest in the equipment to do the jobs because at this point we’re just putting on Band-Aids.”
County commissioners decided earlier this year to hold off spending more money for a new truck until they decide whether to turn over control of waste collection services to Advanced Disposal.
Lovett said having either Advanced Disposal or the Solid Waste Department handle all collections would make it easier to allocate the right amount of resources.
“We’re not pitted against each other,” he said. “We work very well with (Solid Waste Director Kevin Barkley) and the city. I’ve made it clear in meetings: either fund me or fund (Solid Waste), but stop doing this down the middle.”
Former Macon Mayor C. Jack Ellis is among those whose yard waste hasn’t been picked up.
“I ride my bike in the neighborhood and notice there’s quite a bit in and around the streets,” Ellis said. “When you’re paying taxes and not getting services, that’s when the problem comes in.”
Tips for placing yard debris for pick up:
- Place the debris within four feet of the curb;
- Keep the piles as neat as possible;
- Try to cut larger limbs, etc. to under four feet in length;
- Don’t place debris or containers near fire hydrants, mailboxes or other objects that could impede the pick up.