Thursday, October 29, 2009

Garbage Wars

Five years ago, we found a property at the end of a county road in what is probably the most lightly populated county in Georgia. A row of summer cabins and full time homes line the road as it ends at Lake Eufaula. We rented one of these summer places while we built two homes. As part of our rental agreement we paid an adjacent county for garbage service as most of the homes on the road were on the north end of the neighboring county. Our property and about 6 or 7 others were across the county line into our county.

When our houses were finished, we went to the adjacent county to establish garbage service for our two new homes. The surly clerk told us that they were no longer providing service to our county because "those people don't pay their bills, and we are going to pick up all the cans and stop service." Since the garbage truck needs to come all the way to our property to turn around in the cul-de-sac next to our new house, we pleaded with her to let us pay for 6 months in advance, explained that we had already been paying for service at a different house that also was in our county and if she could check her records, she would see that the property we had rented was totally current with its garbage bill. However, there was no reasoning with her and she refused to even consider providing the service to us.

In the meantime, our county began to charge us for garbage service! We went to the county office and asked for our can and when that county clerk checked her records, she said that they didn't provide garbage service to our road and that we should contact the other county. We explained that we had already done that, and that we wished to at the least have the monthly charge removed from our water bill. She complied with our request and we were on our own.

We bought big garbage cans and used our utility trailer to take them to our county's dump for about 3 months. Suddenly, the dump rules changed and they no longer accepted household garbage. While we aren't big garbage patrons (we found a place 50 miles away where we could recycle aluminum and glass, we always had limbs and branches to burn, so we could burn our burnables, and we always compost the compostibles) but still, we could fill a small can in a month or so.

Meanwhile, the big garbage truck from the adjacent county continued to turn around in front of our house every Monday, and to pick up garbage from the houses with cans in front, even the ones in our county. One day when we were out on a drive, we found a county garbage can in the ditch alongside the road with no driveway to attach to it, so we picked it up.

For the next two years, we put out our illegal garbage can (did I mention that the garbage cans down here are the 90 gallon variety?) about once a month or less, and always put an envelope on the can with a $10 bill taped to the top. The garbagemen, who were probably grossly underpaid, got a little bit more for their efforts, we had a way to get rid of our trash, our conscience was clear as we paid for our garbage service, and the middleman in the county office was eliminated.

Unfortunately, nothing good ever lasts forever....last year, our county decided to send a huge garbage truck down the 3 miles of dirt road to collect garbage from about 6 houses. We now pay $12 a month (even for the 6 months we aren't here) to have garbage service. So TWO garbage trucks are adding wear and tear to the pathetic dirt road, TWO garbage trucks drive six miles round trip to service about 25 homes total, and we have the noise and odors of garbage trucks TWO days every week.