Benson could become the first Johnston County town to give households a trash can for yard debris.
At the Board of Commissioners meeting Sept. 9, Town Manager Matt Zapp recommended Benson include yard debris in weekly trash pickup. The idea, he said, is to reduce the time town employees spend clearing yard debris from storm drains.
Zapp recommended the town give every household a 95-gallon container for yard debris. He also recommended Benson increase the size of recycling bins from 65 to 95 gallons. The changes would cost households an extra $30 a year, he said.
Commissioners said they needed time to think about Zapp’s proposal. They will likely discuss the matter at their Oct. 14 meeting.
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Benson currently collects yard debris – sticks, grass clippings and leaves – when residents call with a request. But town workers can’t always get to a house right away.
“Many residents are putting (yard debris) right into the street, on the curb,” Zapp said. “If we don’t get to it right away, all the materials that sit there get washed down the street and go immediately into the gutter.”
In a study ordered my commissioners, the town found that the public utilities staff spends nearly 3,800 hours a year clearing storm drains of debris. That prompted the proposal from Zapp.
“When we looked at the whole problem, we said, ‘How can we eliminate the material going into the storm drain?’ ” Zapp said. “Well, if you put it in a can, you can get the can every week.”
The price of trash pickup would increase from $19.50 to $22 a month, with a maximum price increase of 3 percent a year from the town’s private hauler.
Mayor William Massengill said he wanted time to make sure the proposal was right for Benson. “I don’t want to charge people more money, but we know that costs go up,” he said. “The question is, What does it cost if we don’t do it?”
“We’re trying to make the right decision,” the mayor added. “It’s tough to have to think about charging people more in an economy where people aren’t getting pay raises.”
Zapp made his recommendations after he, assistant town manager Braston Newton and public utilities director Don Johnson completed a study of Benson’s curbside-collection needs. Commissioners requested the study.
Zapp also recommended the town award a five-year contract extension to its private hauler, Waste Industries. Under the proposal, Waste Industries would continue weekly trash pickup and biweekly recycling. The town would continue curbside leaf collection in November, December and January.
The curbside study also compared Benson’s sanitation fees with those in Clayton, Dunn, Four Oaks, Selma and Smithfield. It found that even with the proposed increases, Benson would still have the third cheapest trash pickup among the six towns. Dunn ($16.05 monthly) and Clayton ($17.50) have the lowest rates, while Smithfield has the highest at $26 a month.
Zapp said he was looking forward to further discussion of his recommendations. “If you have a better approach, then you bring a solution forward,” he said. “This is one of those solutions.”