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By KELLY DANIELS
Starkville residents will be able to keep receiving their free garbage bags.
The Starkville Board of Aldermen threw out a proposal Tuesday to investigate benefits of a new garbage container system that would include the distribution of 96-gallon carts storing individually-bought bags.
Ward 3 Alderman Eric Parker presented a âconservativeâ cost savings of $600,000 over a decade by permitting the cityâs Environmental Services Department, which handles sanitation and recycling, to begin the switchover.
âWeâve had to pay $180,000 in workmanâs comp claims over three years,â Parker added.
Costs of the new program would include retrofitting trucks, delivery of carts and possibly adding a new worker.
Commending the proposal, Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas called the amount of possible cost savings âastoundingâ and encouraged his fellow aldermen to explore those opportunities.
But the board made no motion to permit the sanitation staff to obtain more concrete cost measurements by proposing for bids on the carts.
Instead, members accepted a garbage bag bid of $4.19 a roll, topping last yearâs $3.80-a-roll bid, by voting 4-2 with Parker and Dumas opposing.
âOur current system is not broken,â said Ward 6 Alderman Roy Ă. Perkins, arguing that the sanitation services function perfectly.
Parker replied, arguing that he would feel irresponsible after voting against a tax increase without trying find ways to save the city funds.
Ward 7 Alderman Henry Vaughn said that the city does not have to take after practices of other municipalities.
âWhatâs more important,â he said, âthe citizens of Starkville or cost savings?â
Ward 1 Alderman Ben Carver said that heâs normally willing to review a cost analysis, but his constituents oppose the idea.
âI havenât got a call in support of it yet,â he said.
Vice Mayor Sandra Sistrunk, who supported Parkerâs proposal two weeks ago, could not attend Tuesdayâs meeting.
Local citizens collectively echoed Perkinsâ opposition, bringing with them questions of enforcement and arguing that the elderly would have trouble pushing carts.
âSometimes numbers donât tell the whole story,â said Richard Mullenax, referring to Parkerâs estimated cost savings.
Wayne Fondren, who criticized Parkerâs proposal in a published letter, contended that there was no way âon Godâs creationâ the city would save money by switching to carts.
âLet the garbage alone,â he said.
Jim Mills also spoke against the cart system, calling carts âslop buckets.â
John Gaskin said that if officials wanted to save money they could stop distributing free garbage bags.
âJust because itâs cheaper doesnât mean itâs better,â he argued.