Automated trash service picks up pace

Matthew Lane • Mar 31, 2007 at 1:21 AM

KINGSPORT - Phase two of Kingsport's automated garbage collection service is expected to begin Monday with the delivery of carts to the remaining 8,000 city residents.

Streets and Sanitation Manager Ronnie Hammonds said an independent contractor will begin distributing approximately 8,000 96-gallon carts to Model City residents Monday and continue through April 27. Collection for these new residences will begin the week of May 7.

"They'll be in every section of town that is not included in phase one," said Hammonds. "This will complete the automated process for the city of Kingsport."

Once distribution is complete, every residence in Kingsport should have one of the new carts to be used with the automated collection service. City officials say if you move, the cart is to remain at the residence.

Additional carts can be purchased for $60, and smaller carts will be available upon request. Back door service will still be available for a fee.

As the transition to the automated system continues, city officials remind customers to remember a few simple steps:

•Place all trash collection containers at least 3 feet away from mailboxes, power poles or other potential obstacles.

•Place the container with the serial numbers and arrow facing toward the street.

•Separate multiple containers by at least 3 feet.

City officials also ask residents who wish to dispose of their old trash cans to place a large "X" on them with masking tape, marker or paint, and they will be picked up at the curbside May 7-21.

Under the new collection service, garbage will be collected by special trucks equipped with mechanical arms that extend, grab the bins, and dump the garbage into the truck - all done from the driver's position.

The city spent about $750,000 on four new garbage trucks (money that would have been spent on replacing the existing five garbage trucks). In addition to the trucks, the city borrowed about $910,000 from the fleet department's fund to pay for the new carts.

The first phase of automated garbage collection service was implemented in February, and Hammonds said the transition has been relatively smooth.

"We've had very few problems, The operators have adapted exceptionally well to the service, and the citizens have done an excellent job of putting things out," Hammonds said. "One of the problems we're having is that occasionally we'll get a little bit more set beside the can.

"People need to realize that everything needs to fit into the can."

Last year when the Board of Mayor and Aldermen was discussing the switch to automated service, Alderman Pat Shull raised the concern about whether Kingsport could maintain a high level of service after the switch.

Hammonds said he thinks the level of service is at the same level at it was prior to automation.

"I think we've made arrangements that with people being able to purchase a second can, that took care of a majority of questions we've been having," Hammonds said. "I don't think the level of services has declined any."

In addition to Kingsport providing automated collection to Model City residents, the city plans to provide similar service to Mount Carmel later this year.

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