For those observing city meetings, it has become a familiar routine.
Purchasing much-needed equipment for the city’s public works department was brought before the city council again this week.
And it was tabled, once again...as it has been for months.
“New equipment has been on the (agenda) for the past six months,” said Alderman Dr. Jack Varner. “And we haven’t done anything.”
Reviewing the bids received for the new equipment was on the agenda for Monday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting, but no action was taken on those purchases.
Varner said it is time for the board to determine, first, if the city is going to continue attempting to collect garbage or should the city hire a contractor to do the job.
“We need to know what we are going to do regarding the garbage before we even think about new equipment,” Varner said. “But it is time for us to have maybe a special meeting, get down and decide whether or not we are going to continue to pick up people’s garbage.”
Equipment, personnel and finances are all areas that need to be addressed, Varner added.
“Let’s not go through another year like this year, period,” Varner said. “This board needs to get together and settle this sooner or later. We can’t just keep on putting it off.”
Alderman Ron Johnson said the board continues to talk about solid waste, but he said the street department as a whole needs attention.
“To me, it looks like we are piling all this equipment in one spot,” Johnson said. “You need to prioritize.”
Johnson said the city needs to move forward, and they can’t expect to continue to depend on the county to help out.
“They have got their own work to do,” Johnson said.
Mayor Diane Delaware reminded the board that they do not run the public works department.
“The trouble is that it is not being run,” Varner added. “And you can blame all of us.”
“The individual who runs public works is Mr. Walter Williams,” Delaware replied.
Delaware said the board requested proposals for consideration on contracting out the city’s garbage services. She said the board attorney currently has those proposals and is reviewing them for their legal content.
“That information will tell us what a contractor would charge and what services they would provide to pick up the 3,978 pieces of garbage that we pick up in garbage cans today,” Delaware said.
Delaware said the comparative analysis would also take a look at the city’s rubbish pit, the street department and municipal waste.
“All these services leave something to be desired,” she said.
When Williams approached the board to speak, Delaware told him “not today.”
During the previous board meeting, Williams said he had made the recommendations for the equipment his department needs, but the board has failed to purchase any of those items.
“There is a lot we haven’t done,” Varner said. “It’s for us to determine what plan we are going to do. Tell Walter Williams and get it done. But it is strictly this board’s decision on what we are going to do.”
Delaware said it is all about the necessary data coming before the board.
“But it’s not coming to this table magically,” she said. “Somebody has to go get it and bring it to us.”
“Our city clerk is not capable of bringing that information to us,” Varner added.
Alderman Rev. Gregory Robertson said regardless of what direction the city goes in regard to garbage collection, equipment is still needed.
“We still need a backhoe, and a dump bed,” Robertson said. “We haven’t made a decision to purchase these things. These things we can make a decision on and get on with it.”
Varner said those purchases should have been made five months ago.
“We need to look at the budget and see if we can afford it,” Varner said. “But we can’t get the figures from the city clerk.”
“People are still complaining about houses not being demolished and trash being picked up,” Robertson added.
Delaware said the city has a municipal waste problem, bottom line.
“I think we sit around the table, and we don’t talk about it,” she said. “So, I want the citizens to know that we understand it, we know it, and we are fixing it.”
Delaware said she is discovering “more and more” each day when it comes to garbage collection.
“We found out we have garbage cans out there that we are not billing people for,” she said. “There is just a lot of work to be done in that area. But we commit to you that we will address it.”