Commissioners Court members nearly agreed upon a temporary solution to Guadalupe County’s recent closure of its trash collection sites Tuesday at a regular meeting of the court.
But court members still had too many unanswered questions to comfortably move forward on the initiative to have county employees operate two of the shuttered collection sites one day a week.
“If we would’ve had all of our ducks in a row, I would’ve voted to open it up. But we didn’t,” said Precinct 4 Commissioner Judy Cope after the meeting.
Guadalupe County collection stations all closed, and have been closed since, 4:30 p.m. July 31. Commissioners voted not to enter into a contract with Republic Services, the vendor that supplied services at the three collection sites in the county.
The court and Republic could not agree on terms of the contract. The increase in the vendor’s fees were what proved most unpalatable for a majority of the Commissioners Court.
After closing the collection stations and deciding to request proposals for a vendor, possibly even Republic, to provide services at the sites, the court began working on an interim plan to help the county residents clamoring about the loss of their trash service, which many have relied upon for decades.
County officials on Tuesday discussed a plan to open from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays the collection sites in Kingsbury and Marion starting this Saturday. The plan included employees with the county’s Road and Bridge Department working the part-time weekend shift along with a volunteer from the commissioners court.
During the hours of operation, residents could’ve dropped off their household trash at a price of about $2 per bag, paying only by credit card, the preliminary plan suggested.
Commissioners Court members discussed the plan and its virtues and shortcomings Tuesday.
While it would give residents without trash pickup availability a way to dump their refuse, the plan also came with its problems. A major one was ensuring that the county had the proper permits in place to collect and store the trash under guidelines established by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Assistant County Attorney Robert Etlinger said he was not 100% sure the commission would allow the county to run the collection site, which was a major reason Cope said she voted for postponing the plan to temporarily open the sites.
She would’ve liked to have seen the stations reopened since she regularly used one before their closure, Cope said. But the timing wasn’t right.
“It’s been an inconvenience for a lot of residents,” Cope said. “I voted against opening it without having all our permits or having all the answers if permits are needed.”
Precinct 1 Commissioner Greg Seidenberger said the majority of the county citizens affected by the closure of the sites live in his precinct. He routinely fields calls from disgruntled residents who need the county’s help, Seidenberger said.
He voted along with Precinct 2 Commissioner Drew Engelke to go ahead with the interim plan.
“We can’t keep putting this off. It’s a service we provide as a governmental entity,” Seidenberger said.
Some people in the county can’t get a commercial service to come to their homes for trash pickup, and they are left in a lurch by the county’s lack of drop-off sites, Seidenberger said. They have no options.
“It’s critical until we find a full solution, the county continue to provide that service to those who need it,” Seidenberger said.
He understands the issues with TCEQ and that it could take more than a few days to iron out those problems, which also disappointed him, Seidenberger said. He said he hoped the interim plan could be put back on the agenda for the court’s next regular meeting next Tuesday and members will open the sites temporarily until a more permanent solution is put forth.
A permanent decision could be another month out or more.
The county set a deadline of 2 p.m. Sept. 18 for contractors to submit proposals to handle trash collection and disposition. After that, commissioners court is expected to consider the proposals and move forward with the best option.
Seidenberger said he is trying to help those in need.
“There’s a lot of people still calling and saying ‘I’m holding my garbage. What am I going to do with it,’” he said.