Alabaster approves curbside pickup changes

Published 9:54 am Tuesday, November 20, 2018

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Beginning in April 2019, the Alabaster Public Works Department will begin collecting curbside heavy trash twice a year, rather than every week as they currently do, as the Alabaster City Council voted unanimously during a Nov. 19 meeting to make the changes. Council members said they are considering alternative methods of helping residents dispose of heavy trash weekly once the changes take place.

As a result of the changes, the Alabaster Public Works Department’s weekly curbside pickup program for non-wood waste will end in April 2019. After April, the city will continue to pick up curbside wood and yard waste, such as trees, leaves and grass clippings, each week, and will pick up other types of curbside debris twice a year: Once in April and once in October.

Currently, Public Works uses grapple trucks to pick up any type of debris left on curbs throughout the city and transports it to the landfill. Public Works Director Mark Harris said issues arise when wood waste is mixed with other types of debris, such as household trash, furniture and other items, and then transported to the landfill. The Public Works curbside debris pickup service is separate from the city’s regular weekly trash and recycling pickup.

From 2010 to 2017, the city saw its number of hauls to the landfill double, and Harris said this year’s number is on track to surpass the 2017 number.

The Nov. 19 vote came after a public hearing on the matter, during which six people spoke against the move.

“A reasonable solution to a difficult challenge, that’s what we are asking for tonight. To nearly eliminate curbside pickup to only twice a year is an unreasonable course of action,” said Alabaster resident Jeremy King. “We are all ready to come to the table and help with this matter. I want to make sure any alternatives include a curbside pickup element. I think a vote for this tonight is a serious disservice to the people of this city.”

Resident Donna Tidwell encouraged the council to consider providing curbside heavy trash pickup every other month or enact an on-demand curbside service for residents.

Council members said a change in the frequency of curbside heavy trash pickup is necessary to address the county landfill’s concerns and to help the city keep its Environmental Protection Agency MS4 permit, which deals with pollutants in municipal storm water runoff.

“Being held accountable for that (MS4 permit) is a very important aspect for our city,” said Councilman Russell Bedsole. “The increase in cost, MS4 and the county’s request kind of all came together to prompt this change.”

“The sustainability of 52 weeks a year is not applicable at this time,” said Council President Scott Brakefield. “At the end of the day, that is what this is addressing tonight.”

During a Nov. 13 work session, council members said they are considering new offerings to allow residents to dispose of the curbside non-wood and yard waste currently collected by the city each week.

Proposals included possibly paying for Alabaster residents to access the Shelby County Landfill for free one day each week and offering a heavy debris collection site somewhere in the city once a month. Council members said they are planning to look at those possibilities over the next few months, and will announce any new offerings closer to April.

“Please know that we will continue to work toward a solution that will work for everyone without having to raise rates for our residents,” said Councilwoman Sophie Martin.