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County to collect trash in Fries

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

FRIES — Grayson County Public Works collected an additional 261 households on its garbage routes last week after Fries Town Council voted to terminate an agreement with Waste Industries in favor of the county.

After meeting with Grayson Assistant County Administrator Mitch Smith and Public Works Director Jonathan Luper in closed session during its regular meeting Sept. 1, council voted unanimously to make the switch to Grayson collection.

The move will save the town more than $6,000 in fees. According to Town Manager Brian Reed, the agreement with Waste Industries — along with the tipping fees the town must pay separately — amounts to $44,560. The county has agreed to provide the service for $38,428 a year.

Town residents won't see an increase on their trash bill, and will continue to pay a rate of $12.75 a month to the town. The town will pay the county monthly, much like it does with Waste Industries now.

The only details left to negotiate include the starting date of service.

“I've got to terminate [the contract] with Waste Industries,” Reed told The Gazette. “Whenever they stop collecting is when Grayson County will start.”

The town has had a contract with Waste Industries for several years, and Reed said no one is sure exactly when the contract ends, but town officials believe it to be either October or November — the town has been doing an annual extension each year.

“I'm going to try and get out of [the contract] as soon as possible,” Reed said. “But as for the county collecting our trash, we're a go. We just have a few minute details to work out.”

Grayson County Administrator Jonathan Sweet described the agreement as “monumental” for the county and its residents.

“If we secure Independence, then we will be picking up the entire county and it will immensely help to continue to keep the costs low for our citizens,” he told The Gazette.

Sweet felt this agreement was indicative of what is in store for the working relationships in the future.

“Trash collection, Enterprise Zone application, Fries Volunteer Fire Department Facilities Project, Downtown Revitalization, etc... are prime examples of cooperation that lead to mutual benefits and rewards,” Sweet said.

“I am pleased at Fries' decision and we look forward to providing their citizens with a much better service, while saving the town a significant amount of money.”

The Town of Independence remains in negotiations with the county on whether it will continue its service.

Earlier this summer, when the board of supervisors passed the mandatory $3 weekly fee, Independence expressed its displeasure.

Previously, Independence paid the county $3,000 a month to pick up residential trash in town limits. With the $3 fee approved, that amount jumped from $36,000 a year to more than $64,000 — a 78 percent increase.

Sweet spoke with town council at its July meeting, noting that the amount did not include any discounts for seniors in the town limits.

When the county approved the $3 fee, it included an elderly relief that allowed citizens eligible for Grayson's tax relief program to receive a discount of $2 a week — making their total $1 weekly for trash collection.

Council still felt the number would be too high, even with the discounts, and opted to request proposals for solid waste collection.

Proposals were accepted and briefly mentioned during the August meeting, but because the town requested contract negotiations — as opposed to hard numbers — council was able to discuss the contracts in closed session.

Council met Tuesday night and a decision on trash collection could be forthcoming.