By Ray King

After nearly two hours of discussion and questions for representatives of Waste Management, the Pine Bluff City Council approved a five-year extension of the company’s existing contract with no dissent.

A special called meeting was necessary because the existing contract expires at the end of this month. During the council’s last meeting last week, the proposed ordinance to renew the contract was read once only after council members Joni Alexander and Glen Brown Jr., indicated they had multiple questions about the current level of service which were then submitted to the company.

Among Alexander’s questions was one about why there was no city-wide recycling program. George Wheatley, who is the Senior Manager for Market Planning answered that question this way.

There were also questions about why limbs needed to be bundled rather than just stacked neatly and Wheatley responded by saying that the job of Waste Management is to get the trash off the ground without causing injuries to workers. Mayor Shirley Washington added that the job of picking up limbs and bags of yard waste are “labor intensive” requiring workers to get out of their vehicle and physically put the waste into a truck.

Chad Parker, a company distribution manager said that yard waste, leaves and the like go into the greenfield area of the landfill and all of it is handled manually.

Brown asked Wheatley about the theft of trash carts and why owners had to pay for replacements if the cart was stolen through no fault of their own.

Wheatley said a replacement cart costs the company about $100 to purchase, assemble and deliver to customers.