03/25/07 — Duplin wants to get trash agreement with schools

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Duplin wants to get trash agreement with schools

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on March 25, 2007 2:11 AM

GREENEVERS -- Trash is business to Duplin County Solid Waste Director Bee Barnette -- and he is concerned that some of those potential county disposal fee dollars are headed elsewhere.

And the leak is the county's school district.

Currently, the school system contracts with OCS Superior Services to haul its 801 tons of trash every year at a cost of about $85,000.

Hoping to change that, Barnette offered the county commissioners two options at their meeting in the Greenevers Community Building Monday night.

Both involved the Duplin School System acquiring 17 trash compactors and 34 recycling roll-off boxes to serve its 15 schools and school bus garage. Both also involved the schools paying for the installation and providing the electricity, while the county provides routine maintenance and hauls the trash for $100 per month, plus the typical $80 hauling and $40-per-ton tipping fees.

Barnette estimated that cost at about $82,500 per year.

The difference between Barnette's two plans was that in one, the school board bought the containers, while in the other, the solid waste department purchased them and the school system rented each one for $100 a month. The equipment likely will cost about $450,000, but should last for about 10 years.

"I prefer the school buy them, but my department can buy them if we need to," he said. "We need to help the schools. I just want to provide a service and a good service.

"It (would be) just like a convenience site at each school."

He noted that based on the contract the school system currently is working under, it would actually be cheaper and more efficient for the schools to use the county Solid Waste Department.

Barnette also hopes that by providing recycling services to the school system -- free of charge for properly separated items -- his department will be able to improve the entire county's recycling behavior. Currently, he explained, recycling is down in the schools because Superior Services simply throws trash and recyclables into the same container.

And, he added, while recycling doesn't generate a lot of revenue for the county, at $135-per-ton for cardboard and mixed paper, it does provide some extra money.

"We want to be able to get into the schools and push recycling," he said. "If we can get to the kids, they can get to the parents."

But, he continued, if the county's going to take over the school system's trash, a decision has to be made soon.

The school system's contract with Superior Services to supply trash carts at each school expires on June 30. It also has a second contract to supply five compactors that expires in September 2008.

"At this point, we need to get everybody together because we need to move if we're going to do this," Barnette said.

Now, with the commissioners backing the idea and the two sides scheduled to meet soon, it's simply a matter of working out the details.

"We'll have to see how they're going to assist us with that," county school chief finance officer Carolyn Olivarez said. "I'm all for them helping us and we'll work with them as long as it's cost-efficient.

"That's what we have to make sure of."

She explained that it was her understanding that the school system went to the private hauler because the county simply became too expensive, but she also said she'd like to see that relationship renewed if possible.

"Obviously it's better for the county and the school system to collaborate. The more the county and the schools and work together, the better," Olivarez said.