CAIRO — Grady County officials want residents to know that private curbside trash pickup services are available as potential solutions for individuals frustrated with overflowing garbage.
“I think people, if they would just try that, would find that that would solve a lot of their problems, especially with household garbage,” said County Administrator Buddy Johnson, who uses a curbside service himself which he pays for monthly.
“What I spend on that, I’d probably spend in gas trying to haul stuff off in frustration,” he said at a recent meeting of the county commission.
The county has been fighting messy dumpsites for months, in part owing to a series of cascading issues which resulted in trash piling up faster than crews could haul them off.
Adding to the garbage troubles is the fact the county does not have a landfill following the closure of the one in Cairo, instead having to transport the trash to sites in Thomas and Decatur counties.
The long trips into neighboring counties mean crews picking up garbage can typically only transport two loads each day.
Johnson said constructing a new landfill is not as simple a solution as many residents seem to think, and with competing landfills on either side of the county there would be little chance of turning the enterprise into a profit.
“Nobody is going to leave their business,” he said. “They’re not coming to Grady. It’s not closer. It’s easier for everybody to go to them.”
In any case, with an estimated $5 million needed just to open one, and an additional $1.6 million for annual maintenance, the county administrator said building a landfill is out of the question.
“It’s just not cost-worthy,” Johnson said.
To combat the issue, the commissioners instead came up with the idea in January to close dozens of unmanned trash sites that were piling up garbage and convert seven into monitored locations where waste can be kept tidier.
“There’s no perfect system for the trash problem, but we had to do something to at least curb some of the problems that we’re having,” he said.
The process of converting the sites has been slow, but Johnson said the county has to stick to its plan to close the unmanned sites because it’s simply too difficult to keep them open.
“There’s no way we could keep up with them,” he said. “We don’t have the equipment and we don’t have have manpower. We don’t have the money, frankly, to get the stuff that we would have to have to do it properly.”
Johnson said some residents are likely to continue dumping trash where it doesn’t belong, but that the issue will likely work itself out over time.
The July 2 meeting of the county Board of Commissioners was originally slated to feature a presentation on the trash issue by a county resident, but she and Johnson came to a mutual conclusion that it would be better if she were to address the commissioners at a later meeting in August.