Concerns of trash volume raised at Black Mountain Town Council meeting

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News
The annual report included the sanitation department, reporting an average of 232 tons of trash removal each month.

The Black Mountain Town Council received the annual report from public works at the monthly meeting on Oct. 11. 

Jamey Matthews, the director of public works, provided the report, covering capital projects, parks and recreation, work orders and the latest sanitation statistics for the year. 

"We turned out better than we thought we would," Matthews said. 

The report included only one capital project from the past year, the changing of Cherry Street to a one-way road. Matthews said there were no complaints surrounding the project and the public seemed generally pleased with the outcome. 

Other capital projects were put on hold due to COVID-19, as the projection for funding became unclear during the pandemic. 

Matthews' report provided an update on the sanitation statistics from the past nine months. Monthly pickup came out to an average of 232 tons of trash each month. Recycling came out to an average of 50 tons. 

"In the month of October there was 1,031 brush stops for that month," Matthews said. "It never really slows down."

Council member Pam King said the amount of trash going to the landfill each month was of great concern to her. She said finding ways to reduce what's going to the landfill should be a a topic of discussion and continued research to the town, especially in light of other parts of the county reporting high waste statistics.

"In one Buncombe county building, 67% of its waste could've been recycled or composted," King said. "In three Asheville parks facilities, 48% of what was in that garbage could've been composted."

King said not only does reducing waste benefit the environment, it also saves the town money. King said she plans to continue exploring alternatives to adding more waste to landfills in a combined effort with the town staff. 

"I'm not sure what our statistics are but I'm excited to continue exploring that, researching it, seeing what we can do to lighten the load," King said. 

Work orders were up by more than 200 requests in 2020 than in 2019 for a total of 2,300. Matthews credited this in part to the seasonal nature of the work, the department having received more requests in the summer. 

The largest category of work orders went to town properties, 42% of the total. The second highest category consisted of tree work. An additional 23% went to miscellaneous park-related projects. 

"We had way more projects than we did capital projects," Matthews said. 

Public works has started monthly building inspections of town properties. Matthews said this helps keep maintenance under control and reduce long term costs by conducting repairs before issues become serious. 

Members of the public and the Town Council members showed appreciation for the hard work of the public works staff. The director said his team handled the changes due to the pandemic very well and continued their work without incident. 

"During COVID, during all the changes and stuff, I just want to thank the team that I work with," Matthews said. "I work with some good people."