City approves two  automated garbage trucks

The Morristown City Council on Tuesday took a big step toward converting most of the city’s garbage-collection duties to one-man crews by agreeing to pay $280,500 apiece for two new automated refuse trucks.

The $561,000 expense will come from the independent, self-sustaining garbage fund, not general-fund revenues. City government will have to buy thousands of new garbage cans that are compatible with the gripping arm that lifts the cans and deposits the refuse into the truck.

While the primary selling point has been safety, Paul Brown, Morristown Public works director, said last year that each sanitation worker, including salary and benefits, costs city government about $40,000 a year.

The plan advanced earlier is to buy three automated garbage trucks.

Morristown Mayor Gary Chesney said earlier that eliminating the second employee from garbage-truck duty won’t mean a lost job.

“As we transition to more cost-effective ways, we’re also mindful of employee assignments,” Chesney said. “We’re not looking to take away jobs, but redefine them. People will still be working for us, they’ll just have a different assignment.”

Under optimum conditions, the 28-cubic-yard side-loaded trucks can empty about 850 cans per day, a 25-percent increase, according to Brown. Part of the production increase relates to capacity. The smaller trucks require two trips per day to the landfill. That costs about an extra hour per day, according to the public works director.

Brown says the public works department would continue to use one of its current trucks, because the side-loaded trucks require too much space to be used on narrow roadways. Side-loaded carts would also require garbage customers place their garbage can at a precise location with the handle facing the road, according to Brown.

In other business Tuesday, council appointed Nicole Caldwell Hampton, a professor at Walters State Community College, to the Morristown Tree Board. Hampton will fill the unexpired term of Sylvia Hinsley. Her term will expire in 2022.

Current board members Clarence Thompson and Terry Watterson were reappointed to three-year terms.