OUR VIEW: Trash situation causing a big stink

Published 9:30 am Tuesday, May 23, 2023

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A lot of you are holding your noses — figuratively — while reading about Troup County’s ongoing sanitation changes. 

It’s gotten complicated in a hurry.

When the county voted to move forward with Martin Environmental for residential trash pickup, it wasn’t supposed to be this messy — even for trash. Martin bid on the contract, won the bid, and the county set a July 1 deadline for the company to take over sanitation.  

C&C Sanitation, which has provided curbside sanitation to county customers for many years, is raising a big stink, believing the process was unfairly bid. C&C’s argument essentially boils down to the county allowing Martin to lease trucks, something the company and the county have said was negotiated after the bid process.

C&C believes the county might’ve negotiated unfairly with Martin, and it has filed an open record request to look for evidence of the trucks being discussed during the bid process.

C&C didn’t bid on the contract, but Owner Lisa Durden and Attorney Neal Callahan said C&C would’ve bid had it known the trucks could be leased. 

According to Callahan, the county is saying it’ll take 60 days total for at least some of the open record request to be filled. The request is asking for any communication between the county and others who might’ve been involved in the bid process.

We understand that it is going to take time to look through all of the communication requested, but it’s also important to note that this entire discussion seems to center around that communication. We ultimately think it’s in the county’s best interest to offer those records as quickly as possible. In the very least, it’s in the public’s best interest.

In the midst of all of this, C&C is also working to side-step the county’s ordinance that passed with the Martin contract by offering one-bid recycling, a service that it believes is outside the bounds of what the ordinance stipulated. Basically, C&C believes it found a loophole and can continue to operate. 

The county has said that recycling is included under the ordinance, and, just to drive it home, updated its ordinance after C&C made its intentions known. The new ordinance includes language on recycling multiple times. County officials didn’t comment on our last story, but it’s clear that they believe the ordinance stands for itself and clearly outlines what will happen if another sanitation company — one not named Martin — operates outside the confines of the ordinance. That would include any kind of residential trash pickup or recycling in the unincorporated county. 

The county is moving forward. Martin is holding community meetings to answer questions about its upcoming service that starts on July 1. 

C&C, which is moving forward in other communities after recently being awarded contracts in both Lanett and Valley, Alabama, wants to know it was treated legally in the bid process. Yes, for those wondering, the process in Valley and Lanett was practically the same as the one that just played out in Troup County, though the people and circumstances involved are different. 

Lines have been drawn, with some residents already signed up with Martin and some choosing to stick with C&C. 

It’s hard to know where this goes from here, though it seems possible a courtroom will be involved, even if it’s just for the filing of an injunction by C&C.

Right now, on July 1, we know Martin will start its service. It also appears on July 1 that C&C will be offering its new one-bin service. And at some point down the line, a clear resolution is going to be determined, and more than a few Troup County residents are going to be left holding the [trash] bag.