— Officials urge residents to pay up, to access service for free
—Environmentalist says more must be done by the council to raise awareness
Even as the Linden Mayor and Town Council (LMTC) continues to struggle financially, which affects its ability to effectively provide services such as garbage collection, Lindeners are opting to pay more for these services from private companies monthly, than what is required yearly at the council. One of the town’s leading private garbage collection company CEVON’s Waste Management, has increased its monthly fee, from $1,600.00 to $2,000.00. The average residential fee for rates and taxes for an entire year is $1,200.00. Despite this meagre yearly fee, more than 60 percent of the population is defaulting in their payments.
In addition to rates and taxes, millions are owed to the council in market dues. Only a few weeks ago, garbage was piling up across the town because all four of the council’s garbage collection units were down. Town Clerk Orleena Obermuller, explained that the only solution to the issue, was to have the units up and running, which was difficult to do, given the council is cash strapped.
Unreliability on the council’s behalf when it comes to garbage collection, forced Lindeners to turn to a private company that was providing a weekly collection service. Environmentalist Samuel Wright, who is currently spearheading a waste management strategic plan for LMTC, in an invited comment on the issue of residents defaulting in their payments, Wright said the council must invest in raising awareness. That consultation process, he said, must not be spearheaded by the council, but by a collective body of stakeholders who can relate to the populace. The council he said, must have a good sense of what a waste management plan is and that is goes beyond just collecting garbage and disposing of it. This comes down to logistics and statistics and from recent engagements, he believes the council has not considered these facts, hence has placed itself in a quandary when it comes to effectively providing these services.
While income generation seems to be the major focus of the council, Wright believes that even if this is significantly increased, the council will remain in its inefficient state, since the fundamentals of the matter have not been considered. “Questions such as how much of Linden is being covered? What is the unit cost to move the garbage and this will determine whether it will be cheaper to outsource……these are data needed as well as a plan to reduce the amount of solid waste generated in the town, who are the main generators of waste? All they want to do is pick up waste and dump,” the Environmentalist reasoned. He said the council needs to move away from generalising their waste management system and sectionalise it for each generator of garbage. He said systems should also be implemented for when there is an expected heightened generating of solid waste, such as holiday periods and planning must be done ahead so that there is not a situation where garbage is left piled up in the market arena for days because the council does not have the capacity to handle it.
If the council does not implement a system to commence a serious discussion with the residents to assure them of reliability once rates and taxes are paid, then private firms will continue to take advantage of the situation. Some Lindeners have expressed their disappointment with the increase in the monthly prices by CEVONS in a pandemic and argue that residents are forced to pay for the service privately as the LMTC was not reliable in its collection. When asked whether they pay rates and taxes, most of those who complained, answered in the negative.