Town changes waste services company

Waste Pro will take over for Republic Services after Oct. 1

Fred McCormick

Black Mountain residents will see different trucks collecting their trash Oct. 1.

Waste Pro, the Florida-based company that provides trash pick-up for 35,000 Buncombe County residents, will replace Republic Services. The town's board of alderman voted unanimously for the change Aug. 8.

The town's contract with Republic Services expired June 30. The town extended the contract for 90 days while it solicited other offers. It got two proposals - from Republic Services and Waste Pro.

"And Waste Pro's was the most comprehensive, and also the cheapest,"  town manager Matt Settlemyer said.

Black Mountain transition from Republic Services to Waste Pro before an Aug. 10, 2020, decision to develop its own waste removal service.

Waste Pro was at the center of controversy in June 2015 after many Buncombe County residents complained it was not picking up their trash. Black Mountain considered the complaints but after "long discussions" was convinced the company had addressed the issues, Settlemyer said.

"They've increased the number of staff and improved their equipment to a point where we're confident they're able to provide us with quality service," he said.

Unlike current solid waste provider Republic Services, Waste Pro offers technology that allows staff to monitor service in real time, town manager Matt Settlemyer said.

Representatives from Waste Pro, including regional vice president Bob ten Haaf, addressed the board during the Aug. 8 meeting.

"Sixty percent or more of our revenue comes from municipal contracts," he said. "This is what we do and we're set up for it. Here locally we've spent a lot of time in putting significant resources into new technologies. All of our trucks are now equipped with what's known as a third-eye camera, so they take pictures of everything they do.

Another feature offered by Waste Pro provided additional piece of mind that contributed to the staff's recommendation to use the company.

"They have a GPS tracking system that allows us, here in town hall, to get online and track their trucks in real time," Settlemyer said. "So if someone calls and says 'they didn't come down my street,' we can tell them 'well, they're five minutes away.'"

The ability to track the vehicles is key, according to Settlemyer.

"To look at a screen and see all of Black Mountain and where the trucks have been, as well as what direction they're heading is big," he said. "And the third-eye camera system gives us a visual record of where the truck has been, which is a real value for us."

At Mayor Michael Sobol's insistence, Waste Pro removed from the contract some $132,000 in disposal fees - the amount the town pays the county to dispose its trash at the county landfill.

Waste Pro division manager Chip Gingles told the board that the transition from Republic Services to his company would be "pretty simple," adding that some of the company's employees are already familiar with Black Mountain.

"What you'll see is us getting out and riding around, getting to know the area," he said. "We'll make sure we know the routes and we'll look for any troubled areas that may require special attention, or places where we need to use smaller trucks."

Settlemyer said the new contract with Waste Pro breaks down to "roughly $138 per household annually."