It’s been three months and counting since a Guadalupe County Commissioners Court vote ended municipal trash collection at the county’s three refuse stations, but an apparent end is in sight.
The court voted Tuesday to reenter into an agreement with its contractor Republic Services to operate two of the three collection sites. The third will remain closed, but the move means a reprieve for residents who had nowhere to dispose of their garbage since Aug. 1.
“It’s not necessarily an ideal contract, not a cheap contract, but it’s a contract,” Pct. 1 Commissioner Greg Seidenberger said. “I would’ve preferred all three stations be open but two is better than none.”
Collection stations in Kingsbury and Marion on either side of the county will be reopened. The agreement calls for Republic again to start operating the dumps at the beginning of November, but the company could start sooner, according to talks Tuesday between a representative and commissioners.
The new agreement comes with an increase in fees for community members from $1.25 per 30-gallon trash bag to $2 per bag, Seidenberger said. Republic will operate the stations 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Only county residents will be allowed to drop off garbage and they will have to prove residency by showing their current utility bill with a county address on it, a valid Texas driver’s license bearing a county address or having a vehicle registration out of Guadalupe County.
Guadalupe County will pay a little more on its end and the rates will increase annually by either 3% or the consumer price index, whichever is higher. Commissioners court seemed poised to sign a contract Tuesday, but the one in hand did not include a couple last-minute changes Republic requested.
The vendor asked for the contract to last for three years with an option for two one-year extensions and that recycling for glass be discontinued at the sites. The court voted to approve the changes and authorize County Judge Kyle Kutscher to sign the pact once the changes are made and Republic’s representative signs the agreement.
After the first three years, either party can decline the extension, Seidenberger said.
“If it’s working for us, great,” he said. “If it’s not, we have an out.”
The shorter contract will allow the county to assess its options moving forward at the end of three years, he said. It could prove beneficial financially, Seidenberger said.
“I’m happy with the three-year contract. A lot can happen in three years,” he said. “We can get better data and know who we’re serving. Plus, we could get another competitor.”
More bids next time for trash collection service could drive down the costs, Seidenberger said.
Republic let the court know earlier this year that the company wanted to make changes to the existing contract to run the sites. Both sides were in discussions to settle on a contract when negotiations broke down.
The court voted not to renew Republic’s contract and the company stopped providing services leaving many residents in the unincorporated areas of Guadalupe County with no options for trash disposal. Some contracted with other private vendors while others waited it out as best they could.
Officials asked for proposals from Republic and other companies to come up with the best deal for Guadalupe County. At a meeting last month, commissioners court weighed proposals from Republic and one other firm, Apache Disposal, but sided with the previously-contracted company.
Republic and the county were able to hammer out the details to the deal, which was to his liking, said John Carrington, Republic Services division manager. Conscientious negotiating on both sides sealed the deal, though it also was what held up the agreement, he said.
“Both sides were doing their fiduciary responsibility,” Carrington said.
He had noticed trash on the sides of roads that likely will diminish once the stations are open again, Seidenberger said. On a recent week, he said he drove down one road and counted as many as 13 mattresses and/or box springs. He saw fewer tires, counting only seven within the last month, on the side of the roads, Seidenberger said.
He’s happy with the overall outcome and thanked the people of Guadalupe County for dealing so well with the inconvenience of having their trash service disrupted for so long.
“I applaud the people. I thank the people for doing what they were supposed to do,” Seidenberger said. “I’ve had numerous calls from people saying, ‘I have stored my trash. Hurry up and open the dumps.’”