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Haste makes waste, public input sought on W.Va. trash issues

October 10, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Area business owners and residents concerned about their garbage disposal and recycling service have an opportunity Wednesday to give input to state regulators charged with ensuring the public is adequately served.

"If you're a resident or business owner and you want (waste hauling) competition, now is the time to step forward," said Clint Hogbin, chairman of the Berkeley County Solid Waste Authority.

The public hearing, one in a series scheduled in communities across West Virginia by the state's Public Service Commission before the coming regular session of the Legislature, will begin at 11 a.m. in Martinsburg City Hall council chambers at 232 N. Queen St.

"If you want increased recycling, this would be a time to stand up and say so," Hogbin added.

In the coming months, Hogbin anticipates the PSC will ask state lawmakers to allow the agency to create a competitive environment for waste hauling, which he believes will result in lower commercial rates and timely service.

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The hearing follows three days of "evidentiary" proceedings held last week by the PSC to consider a request by Allied Waste Services of North America LLC (BFI) to haul commercial waste in Berkeley and Jefferson counties, Hogbin said. The proceedings for that request are expected to continue in Charleston, W.Va., and a decision is not expected until February 2007, Hogbin said.

Allied Waste applied for the required certificate to operate about 14 months ago, Hogbin said.

"It's a broke system," Hogbin said of the PSC's current process.

Like bidding for public highway and building projects, "I would like to see the counties to have the ability to (require waste hauling companies) compete for residential service," Hogbin said.

A waste hauler's certificate to operate is never subject to review, "unless another hauler comes in and says, 'I think I can do it better,'" Hogbin said.

Proving that is a daunting challenge, he added.

If unable to attend Wednesday's hearing, those concerned may mail written comments by Friday to West Virginia Public Service Commission, Sandra Squire, Executive Secretary, 201 Brooke St., P.O. Box 812, Charleston, WV 25323, Attn: Case # 06-0722-MC-GI




Public hearing



What: The West Virginia Public Service Commission is seeking input on garbage collection and recycling.

When: Wednesday, 11 a.m.

Where: Council Chambers at Martinsburg (W.Va.) City Hall, 232 N. Queen St.

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