County Executive Charlie Dooley defended the county's trash-collection districts last week, contending the program has cut residents' trash bills and reduced the number of trucks and cans on the streets.
Dooley told a group of Grantwood Village residents at a Board of Trustees meeting that when the county contracted with haulers three years ago to provide exclusive service in unincorporated areas, it was no different than what municipalities already were doing.
"That's all I heard about: 'I've got four or five trucks coming down my street every week. Can you do something about it?'" Dooley said. "There are places in north county that people pay $60 a month for two trash pickups. Some places are $30.
"That is documented proof. The reason why I know it is because a couple of my directors live in north county and told me that's what they pay: $60 a month ...
"We had people on different streets paying different things and trucks in the area every day of the week, trash cans out every day of the week."
Unincorporated areas were divided into eight trash districts in 2008. Residents are required to set up service with their district's hauler or face prosecution. Unauthorized trash companies are prohibited from providing waste collection.
Officials have said they established the program as a way to standardize service, encourage recycling, save unincorporated residents money through competitive bidding and reduce the frequency of trash trucks on the streets. But many residents — particularly in south county, where four of the eight districts are situated — have argued that the program took away their right to choose their hauler or whether to have trash service at all.
And waste haulers who were not awarded trash district contracts contend they've lost a significant amount of business as a result of the program.
Several lawsuits have been filed over the establishment of the program. In one suit, a ruling is pending on how much in damages the county must pay three haulers that successfully argued they did not receive a state-required two years' written notification before the trash districts' establishment.