In an effort to tackle the growing issue of waste management, the city of Newnan is now considering requiring downtown business owners to participate in a mandatory trash service.
On Thursday, the city hosted the first of three public forums designed to streamline the process of waste management and hold business owners accountable for their trash footprint.
In order to implement this strategy, the city would create their own trash service, according to Assistant City Manager Hasco Craver.
“If you’re doing business in the district, you would be required to have trash service,” Craver said. “The city would manage the service, the city trucks, cans and staffing.”
The operation would be paid for through the city’s existing sanitation fund. Fees for users would be based upon usage or “touches” – a definition of how many times a sanitation worker would need to empty a trash can.
Proposed fees for downtown businesses would range anywhere from $23 per month all the way up to $362 for heavy users such as restaurants.
Craver said among the 243 properties located in the downtown businesses district, several do not currently have trash service. As a result, the quantity of cans found in alleys is often obtrusive, and the physical condition of alleyways prevents regular maintenance.
Currently, the average frequency for trash pickup is once a week for most businesses, although restaurants typically receive more frequent service, according to Craver.
To tackle this problem, a city-run trash service would run six days a week and ensure strict code enforcement to keeping alleyways, sidewalks and trash receptacles clean. The city-run service would exclusively work in downtown Newnan.
“We have tried to develop a fair rate for our merchants and one that is sustainable for us,” said City Manager Cleatus Phillips. “I don’t want to get in a program where I have to subsidize it from the general fund. We’re at a level we hope is pretty much a break-even operation.”
Downtown business owners Jamie Damaschke and Cher McWilliams were in attendance for the first meeting. Both women said the need for accountability when it comes to waste management has hit a critical point.
McWilliams, owner of Leaf and Bean, said she’s been staring at a rotting desk left behind in her alley for six months now.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cleaned up the alley from the waste left behind by restaurants,” she said. “They’re creating more problems with rodents. so something absolutely has to get done.”
Damaschke lives and works downtown and says she would like to see a greater emphasis placed on recycling.
Currently, Waste Management no longer accepts glass and she finds herself “morally biting the bullet” when it comes to throwing away a bottle or taking it herself to a nearby compactor site.
“I’ve seen recycling bins filled for weeks, with garbage in recycling bins and vice versa,” she said. “Nothing is labeled and people don’t know what they can recycle. It needs to become more efficient. We need opportunities for people to do it more efficiently.”
Like McWilliams, she’s also stared at a rotting piece of furniture in her alley and has often cleaned up behind constriction companies who have worked on her building.
“I was sick of looking at all their trash, so I picked up and put where it needed to go,” she said. “I have to live and work here.”
Both felt the first meeting was a positive sign that the city is getting serious about keeping its trash footprint in check.
“I feel it’s their responsibility to have a separate division within the maintenance department to ensure things stay picked up,” Damaschke said. “I think they’re taking the reins and finally starting the process. What comes of it may be even greater than what they’re proposing.”
The next public forum on the issue is scheduled for July 14 at 10 a.m. in the Richard A. Bolin Council Chambers at City Hall.
Clay Neely: firstname.lastname@example.org, @clayneely