Returning a Service in a Sustainable Way

In reading some of the comments on the survey, I’ve realized I should clarify our plan for brush collection. The proposed budget provides for the purchase (through a bond) of two new brush collection trucks and provides funds for two new personnel to go along with them. This means that the city will be providing the service—as it did before.

One person asked why we don’t get one brush truck and one leaf truck and alternate them each week, so we can provide both services. And that’s a valid question—one I asked myself. So here’s the thing: we’re planning long-term, not short-term—something the city has absolutely must improve on. We ended up in the situation we were in last year because we pushed our equipment too far, expected too much out of what little we had, for far too long. Simpsonville has simply grown too much for one truck to serve us all. That’s why, you’ll recall, we often waited multiple weeks for pick up. The truck just couldn’t keep up with the volume. And the years of trying took its toll on the equipment. This go round, we’re planning smarter. If we want a sustainable brush service long term, we need two trucks, not one. And we need a plan for maintaining and replacing equipment, so we don’t just drive our equipment into the ground. If we’re going to do it, we need to do it right. Period. Otherwise, a few years down the road, we’ll be right back where we were.

Q&A: S. Main & Richardson

Have you noticed a dip in the intersection of S. Main & Richardson Streets? 

Recently, a resident reached out to me about this issue. He said,in part, “There was utility work done on S. Main that extended through the intersection and when they filled and repaved they left a large dip affecting the eastbound direction of travel. I drive through the intersection daily and the nose of my car drags. I don’t own a low slung sports car and I’m not the only one, you can see the gouges where it happens to many drivers.” He asked if I could follow up on this issue.


I contacted Public Works Director Jay Crawford who indicated that this dip in the road will be fixed by our Public Works road crew either today, Friday, December 30th or next week. According to Mr. Crawford, although these roads are SCDOT maintenance roads, the dip was created by patchwork during sewer repair work by the City. Therefore, we will correct the problem. 

If you travel this intersection regularly, expect this problem to be corrected within a week (weather permitting). In the meantime, use the intersection with care. 

Q&A: Boyd/Morton

Recently, I spoke with a resident who lives in the Boyd/Morton area of Ward 3. This resident told me that some time ago, a large truck ran into the stop sign at the corner of Boyd and Morton. Since then, it has looked like this:


The resident asked what it would take to get it fixed.

So I contacted our Public Works Director, who explained the following:

This is a SCDOT stop sign.  We have reported it to the SCDOT maintenance department.

In addition, our PW Department will be doing an 811 locate at that spot to identify underground utilities; then, new street signs will be added at the intersection.

Apartment Complex @ Harrison Bridge Rd.

Recently, I have received a number of emails regarding a proposed apartment complex on Harrison Bridge Rd. And while I have answered each one individually, given the interest in this topic, I also wanted to post an update here publicly.

As of yet, this issue has not been brought before Council, but I have done some research into it because I have received several emails about.

Last week, the Planning Commission held a public hearing about an annexation on Harrison Bridge and Hipps Roads for an apartment complex. The Planning Commission voted 5-2 recommending denial.

For my part, I am unlikely to vote to approve something the Planning Commission has already voted to deny. Add to what I have learned about the project thus far, and I would need a really compelling reason to vote in favor of this annexation as it has been presented.

As of this morning (8 November 2016), this apartment complex proposal has been postponed by the applicants, and they’re considering whether they should withdraw the application entirely.

More Q&A on Public Works

Lots of questions this week as we get closer to September 1st! So here are some questions I’ve been asked and the answers I’ve provided. Some of this information may be beneficial to others in our community, so I thought I’d post them here.

Q1: I haven’t gotten my packet, yet. Where can I get one?

A1: We have a copy available for you online here: bit.ly/2bn1zqN.

Q2: Today’s my regular trash day. My trash is usually picked up by now, but it hasn’t been. But the new service doesn’t start until September 1st, right? So what’s going on?

A2: New service does not start until September 1. There are two possibilities here: A) Service may be running a bit behind as ACE works with Public Works to become accustomed to our routes and as they try to make sure everything put out prior to the change is picked up. B) Many of us have become accustomed to determining whether or not our trash has been picked up by looking to see if the lid is opened or closed. The inmates the city previously used to dump the roll carts would usually leave the lids hanging open. So we knew they’d been by. However, the new automated trucks automatically close the lids after they’ve dumped your trash. So a closed lid no longer indicates your trash hasn’t been picked up.

Q3: Wait. Do I need a new cart?

A3: It depends on what kind of cart you have. If you have one of these, you’ll need a new cart.

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Ace will be delivering replacement carts to those who still use these between now and August 31st. There is no charge for a replacement cart. ACE has a list of those who have still been using the old green carts.

If you have one of these, you’re good to go:

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Q4: Will ACE still pick up things like old TVs, sofas, box springs, and mattresses?

A4: The city has never picked up old TVs…or any other electronics.

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Penny and I stopped on our walk to remind a neighbor that the City does not pick up used TVs. ACE won’t either.

And this is true with ACE as well. As for the others, ACE will pick up one bulk item from each home per week provided that item is 50 lbs. or less. If you need to dispose of more than that, you can call ACE to schedule a pick up for the next week.

Q5: How exactly do I bundle sticks?

A5: Check out this ehow article: http://bit.ly/2bND16k.

Q5: Where do I put my cart? In the street?

A5: You will still put your cart on the curb.  The rule to remember is that it cannot be more than 2 ft. from the curb.  If it’s too far away, the truck can’t grab it.  You’ll also want to make sure you have 3 ft. clearance on all other sides of the cart.  Again, the truck can’t grab it if it’s too close to another item, like a mailbox or tree.  This is an example of a placement that worked when ACE came through Westwood yesterday:

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No more than 2 ft. from the street but not in the street.

Q6: It says they won’t pick up anything not in the cart. What if I have too much stuff?

A6: If this is a regular occurrence, call and request a second cart.  Also, if you haven’t signed up for recycling, now is the time!  Using the recycling cart has decreased what we put in our garbage cart by more than half!  There is no charge for a recycling cart.

Also, remember that tomorrow (8.25.16), ACE staff will be at the Activity and Senior Center from 10:00 AM-12:00 PM to answer your questions about the upcoming changes. And you can always call them at 864.877.0505.

Read previous posts on Public Works here.

Q&A: What’s Up with the Sewer?

Mayor Curtis released a statement recently in which she said, “When I came into office only 3% of our sewer system had been inspected, cleaned and repaired. We must have our entire city sewer inspected, cleaned and repaired, 100% within the next few years or face serious fines.”

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Someone asked me about that and how it relates to our decision to contract services for garbage, recycling, and yard waste.  So here’s what I know:

Shortly after I took office, I met with our City Department Heads to learn more about their departments.  I was most surprised by what I found visiting our Public Works Department and speaking to the Interim Director and employees. Amongst other things, I learned that only 3% of our sewer system had been inspected, cleaned, and repaired. In large part, this is because our Public Works Department is seriously under-resourced.  They lack both equipment and personnel to do this critical work.

This is simply unacceptable.  We have 96 miles of sewer and signed agreements with the EPA, DHEC, and ReWa to do regular sewer maintenance. We can have only 2 reportable sewer overflows per year to avoid getting into trouble with the EPA (again) and incurring large fines. We also are required to get 100% of the sewer inspected, cleaned, and repaired in the next few years.  And remember: we are at 3% (maybe just a bit more right now).  Something had to change.  This was one of many factors that contributed to our decision to privatize some of our sanitation services.  Doing so opens up resources for other areas within the Public Works department, such as  these necessary (and urgent) sewer repairs.

In addition to the sewer work, we have 75 miles of streets and 25 miles of sidewalk to maintain. We also have more than 1,000 storm water catch basins to maintain.  All of this work has been neglected over the last several years.  Without the change to garbage, recycling, and yard waste collection, we would need at minimum an additional 5 new employees in order to not adversely impact our street and critical sewer maintenance work. That cost would be about $45,000 per employee, which would be approximately $250,000/year.  That’s on top of the equipment costs we previously discussed that we need to spend to get the garbage, recycling, and yard waste resources up to par. At bare minimum, this year, we could get away with maybe about $640,000 in equipment expenditures. That’s knocking on the door of $900,000 total. This year alone. Even with a tax increase at the maximum level allowed by state law, we wouldn’t have been able to do it.

When people ask why we’re not decreasing taxes if we’re saving money in sanitation, the answer is this: we’re not saving money just to save money.  We’re saving money to a purpose: to do what we need to do for this city, to address critical needs (like the urgent sewer work) to keep it running.

As we move forward, we need fiscally responsible long-term planning for sustainable quality services in Simpsonville.  That’s what this Council is working towards, one step at a time.

Q&A: Limit on Yard Waste

Question: What’s the limit on how much yard waste ACE will collect from me?

Answer: Once every week, ACE will stop at each residence to collect yard waste.  Each residence may have up to 2 cubic yards of waste.  This is approximately 1 pick-up truck load. If you have more, it will be picked up the following week.

The purpose of this limit is to allow ACE to visit every residence in the city every week.  No one will have to wait the 4-6 weeks we currently wait for Public Works to get to us.  We will get reliable and consistent pick up of yard waste. ACE is guaranteed to show up to your house every week and take away up to one pickup truck load of yard waste. This will be a huge improvement to service in the city.

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You can get more details on our transition to ACE Environmental Services online here: http://bit.ly/2bn1zqN.

Read previous posts about Public Works here.

Q & A: What About My Roll Cart?

Do you own one of old green garbage roll carts (like the one pictured on the far left)?

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There are about 2,500 of these roll carts still in use in the city. Unfortunately, these carts cannot be serviced by ACE (our new trash collection service provider). But don’t worry!  ACE has worked with Public Works and has a list of the residences that still use those carts. Ace will be delivering carts to those homes between August 22-31.  There is NO CHARGE for the new roll cart.

The old roll cart belongs to you. You may already have an alternative use for yours.  For example, my husband keeps an old roll cart in the garage.  He uses it to collect garbage that the city doesn’t accept.  When it’s full, he hauls off its contents to the appropriate location.

If you have no use for yours and would like Ace to dispose of your old roll cart, they will. Just mark the container clearly, so they know you no longer want it. One resident has reported that when he asked Ace how they would dispose of the unwanted carts, Ace reported they will be taking them to the landfill. Like the resident who brought this to my attention, I would certainly prefer to see them reused, repurposed, or recycled.  I have contacted our Public Works Director to see if he has any ideas about how we might do that.

You can get more details on our transition to ACE Environmental Services online here: http://bit.ly/2bn1zqN.

Q & A: When is My Trash Pickup Day?

ACE will service the entire City of Simpsonville on Thursdays and Friday each week starting September 1st.

Recently, I was asked by a fellow Westwood resident this question:

Trash day with Simpsonville Public Works in the Westwood neighborhood is on Wednesday. The last day of August is Wednesday 8/31. ACE begins trash pickup on Thursday 9/01.
Q: So will Simpsonville Public Works still be picking up trash on Wed., 8/31?

The answer is yes.  Simpsonville Public Works will be collecting trash on its regular routes Monday through Wednesday of that last week in August. So we’ll still put our carts out for service on Wednesday 8/31 in Westwood.

The following week, we’ll be putting our roll carts at the curb on Thursday, and that will be our trash day moving forward.

Not in Westwood? To see figure out whether your pickup day will be Thursday or Friday, click here.