Valdosta Daily Times

February 7, 2013

County patrols for garbage dumping

Municipalities consider service issues

Jason Schaefer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The closing of recycling/collection centers has left citizens in unincorporated Lowndes County as well as in smaller cities concerned, after a new ordinance took effect Friday that establishes Advanced Disposal as the sole waste management company for the county.

Lowndes County has increased police patrols in unincorporated areas to watch for and prevent illegal trash dumping activity, after the centers closed Sunday.

However, there is no way to know whether illegal dumping has increased, as it would take a 30-day study to measure that activity, said Lowndes County Clerk Paige Dukes.

Lake Park and Dasher citizens have come forward with concerns about how their waste will be managed if Advanced is not allowed to enter their municipalities.

“There are no waste companies in Dasher and Lake Park,” Dasher resident Frank Johnson said. “We never considered ourselves in the city limits, but I guess we are. As far as we’re concerned, our zip code is 31601, and our address is Valdosta.”

Johnson used county recycling centers regularly and in the past had a service agreement with Veolia Environmental Services, which was bought out by Advanced Disposal after the county signed its exclusive franchise agreement with Veolia.

“We’re at a dilemma,” Johnson said. “We really used that recycling center. We went there all the time, and we don’t know what we’re going to do now.”

The county is not responsible for satisfying the waste-management needs of municipalities, Dukes said. One local government cannot bind another.

“Cities have their own ordinances that pertain to the geographical area limited inside the city limits,” Dukes said.

Lake Park Mayor Eric Schindler believes the citizens of his city deserve the ability to make a choice among waste-management services. He said Advanced as well as Deep South Sanitation, owned by local businessman Cary Scarborough, both remain available to his residents.

“If the sanitation service is offering the service within the City of Lake Park, then the citizens have every right,” Schindler said. “What serves one citizen might not serve the needs of another. Competition is always a healthy thing.”

The Lake Park City Council has made no determination to contract with any particular waste service, and does not plan to, Schindler said, adding that the Lake Park government used to provide sanitation until it became cost-prohibitive.

Scarborough is still in the dark as to whether the new ordinance will significantly affect his business, but he plans to stay open and to continue serving the citizens that request his service until he is asked to stop.

“It’s all pending right now. I don’t know what’s going on with (Lowndes County),” Scarborough said. “Deep South is not going out of business.”