Reining in costs for customers and the city while retaining sanitation em-ployees topped the list of concerns at a special work session of the Brazil City Council Tuesday afternoon.
Mayor Tom Arthur met with members Pat Heffner, Bill Lovett, Ann Bradshaw, James Sheese and Marty Beasley.
Beasley has been gathering information about bidding out the city's sanitation services as a cost-cutting measure.
Larry Wallace of Wallace Brothers Disposal and Janet Reed, Executive Director of Clay-Owen-Vigo Solid Waste Management District, were also in attendance to give their input.
Bid specifications, which Arthur said will be on the docket for discussion at the Feb. 11 meeting of the City Council, will break the city's sanitation services down into three categories.
Garbage and rubbish will be a separate category from yard waste and brush. Recycling will be bid out individually as well in what the Mayor is referring to as "buffet-style" bidding. Heavy trash pick-up will be another category.
Until such time as the Council votes to take bids and moves ahead with additional action, the city will continue its usual garbage pickup.
The Mayor also noted he is working on a deal with the Dept. of Natural Resources to pick up yard waste and brush free of charge, leaving only three categories of trash to be bid out.
A single company may bid on all three types, however, Beasley pointed out.
The Council discussed the possibility of every-other-week trash pickup as well as a larger company doing the entire city on the same day each week. Wallace noted that would require numerous trucks that would otherwise set there the other three days of the Monday-Thursday route pattern.
He also explained that a larger company will be able to take on new customers without having to raise the cost significantly. Meanwhile, some companies are moving toward less labor-intensive methods of refuse removal, using standard trash receptacles and hydraulics.
"It's sad for the employment, but that's the way the economy's kind of going," he said. "You're trying to implement a more costly thing with a small budget."
While less hands-on labor reduces work-related in-juries, there are also rental costs of uniform garbage receptacles.
Working with Wallace or another company, the city may also be able to secure grant funding for its sanitation endeavors.
Both Reed and Wallace stressed that city residents are getting an excellent deal for their money when it comes to trash pickup, and they would be hard-pressed to find a similar package anywhere else.
Beasley noted some residents -- as well as nonresidents -- are taking advantage of the trash removal service.
The Council discussed methods of monitoring and handling problems of nonpaying customers that may be implemented in the future.
Most areas do audits, Reed said, and Arthur noted that Brazil's city limits are not smooth and can therefore be difficult to easily define.
"My main concern is our employees and the cost," Heffner said.
If the city bids out its services, there would be 2,800 new households for whichever company secured the contract, Arthur noted.
Meanwhile, Lovett was most concerned with additional costs to Brazil residents. With a recent increase already, the Councilman said he doesn't want to raise the rate any higher.
Although 50 cents to $1.50 more each month isn't much at first glance, for some households, that increase will have an impact.
"That's my concern, the people who can't afford to go any higher," he said.
The City Council meets at 7 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. Meetings are conducted in Council Chambers at City Hall and are open to the public.