The Port Arthur News
PORT NECHES —
Port Neches may be the only city in the area still using rear loader garbage trucks and its residents are just fine with that.
Councilmembers in Port Neches discussed the issues involved in the current system in which one employee drives the truck and two employees ride on back and toss the garbage bags into the truck.
Port Arthur, Nederland and Groves utilize automated trucks where one employee drives the truck and operates the automated “arm” to grab garbage cans and dump them in a truck.
After a lengthy discussion council verbalized its wish not to research the topic this keeping the current system in place.
“The comments I’ve heard are that citizens like the system the way it is,” Councilmember Robert Arnold said.
Councilmember Julie Gauthier said she has heard from residents that they like the two day per week collection. She and Arnold expressed concern for the safety of the workers.
Taylor Shelton, director of public works, said thankfully there have not been any major injuries involving the workers. Injuries include poison ivy contact, several cuts to the hands and minor back injuries, he said.
Port Neches City Manager Andrè Wimer introduced the topic, which was discussion only, saying he did not advocate one system or another.
“The question was presented to me several weeks ago inquiring about the methodology of collection. The question was ‘is this still a common practice in collecting garbage?’” Wimer said.
Issues such as efficiency and cost effectiveness also came into play during the discussion. The solid waste fund is considered an enterprise fund meaning it does not receive monies from property tax. Factors include increases in fuel and health insurance through the years. The city is landlocked with limited possibility for growth hence limited funds to support the system.
Wimer said there is a litany of issues involved such as routes, the cost of the cans for the automated system and would a new system affect the current trash pickup for commercial and expectation of the residents.
“Is there any interest on their part to change from twice a week to once a week,” he said. “A lot would have to go into a review of the system.”
Switching to an automated system could have possibly meant a decrease in the number of employees — an issue that is two-fold because any cost savings would likely come from a decease in employees.
Gauthier worried about those jobs and employees.
The beautification of the city was on Councilmember John Davenport’s mind. Big, bulky cans are not pleasing to the eye and take away from the beauty of the community.
Mayor Glenn Johnson said this discussion has taken place several times through the years.
“I’ve been told by citizens that they’d pay extra, just leave it (system) like it is,” Johnson said.
Johnson told council a thorough review of the topic would take staff months to complete should they want to later consider the issue.
The issue of change to a automated system went no further since council was pleased with the current rear loader system.