November 22, 2017

Dare County Commissioners Consider Reducing
Winter Trash Pick-up for Hatteras Island


The Dare County Board of Commissioners considered a proposal to alter the winter trash schedule for Hatteras Island and other portions of unincorporated Dare County at their meeting on Monday, November 20.

The proposal would reduce residential trash pick-up to once instead of twice a week, and commercial trash pick-up from three times a week to two times a week, from November 1 through March 31.

Special considerations would be given to the week of Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays, and if approved, the winter schedule for this coming year would begin January 2018 and continue until March 31, 2018. The proposed winter schedule for residential collection for Hatteras Island would be Monday for Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras, and Tuesday for Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo and Avon. Commercial collection would occur on Mondays and Fridays.

The proposal was presented as a potential way to save on gas and vehicle wear and tear, and to streamline government operations while cutting costs. However, some residents have reservations about whether a limited schedule could effectively handle the current load.

Dale Farrow, a truck driver with the sanitation department, voiced concerns at and after the November 20 meeting about the increased load.

“My concerns are that trucks will be overloaded if we pick up on just that one day,” said Farrow, noting that his route on Hatteras Island services mainly residential and year-round homes. “Yesterday when I picked up [the trash], I had nine tons which is the limit of the truck – if they doubled it, it would be 18 tons, and there’s no way the truck would carry it.”

“There’s also the issue of weather events,” he added. “At one day a week, you won’t have an option – you’ll have to put [the trash] out on that day. And when it’s blowing 40 mph, it’s just going to get messy.”

Several residents confirmed that they were concerned about severe weather, noting that the wintertime is when Hatteras Island gets the steadiest amount of high winds. “Trash cans will get filled to the brim over the course of seven days,” said one local, “and if they blow over or animals get into them, one tipped-over trash can make a big effect on the neighborhood.”

Additional concerns expressed during or after meeting included the ability of elderly residents to maneuver full trash cans, the costs to residents of acquiring more trash cans, and the potential increase in theft as people find they need more trash cans to handle the new schedule.

The matter was tabled by Board of Commissioners until the December 4 meeting after a lengthy discussion, to allow the commissioners to examine the proposal closer.

“We want to get some more input,” said Dare County Commissioner Chairman Bob Woodard.  “Initially, we were going to implement a pilot program to see if it worked over the first 2-3 weeks. If it didn’t work, we would [have gone] back to the regular schedule immediately. But instead of implementing it immediately, we that decided to table it and get more information first.”

“This was part of a continuing effort to streamline government and to be as efficient as possible where we can, and when we can,” said Hatteras Island County Commissioner Danny Couch in an interview after the commissioners meeting. “But just given the nature of the ingredients here at play on Hatteras – the distance, the rental cottages, the elderly – it’s something that needs to be thought out, and it is not deserving of a ‘hurry up’ decision.”

“What has to be reconciled is the need to make government make more efficient, but also not have any reduction in services that may cause a hardship,” said Couch. “We’re looking at how Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head have done things, but it’s not an apples to apples comparison.”

“On the surface it seems like a logical thing to do, but in examining all these moving parts, it’s a tough call. Nobody wants to solve a problem with a problem.”

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