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Stanislaus County supervisors consider change in rural trash pickup

Stanislaus County's little guy in rural garbage is ready for a growth spurt.

Turlock Scavenger Co., by far the smallest of four firms hauling refuse in unincorporated areas, will jump to second largest if county supervisors approve a new contract today.

And nearly 6,200 families formerly served by Waste Management Inc. could see their garbage bills go down about 10 percent around Halloween.

Waste Management three years ago walked away from its contract hauling garbage in part of Modesto. Two local companies, Bertolotti Disposal and Gilton Solid Waste, split its customers between them.

Waste Management's exit this time allowed the three companies to bid for its rural routes. Bertolotti did not submit a proposal, and Turlock Scavenger beat Gilton's bid for the seven-year contract.

The proposal should shave monthly rates from $22.32 to about $20 for Waste Management's former customers with 90-gallon carts. Rates for commercial bins are expected to fall 11 percent, and drop boxes commonly used for remodel projects could plummet 30 percent. By comparison, recent adjustments elsewhere in county areas dropped home rates 2.5 percent to 8.7 percent but increased drop box rates from 41 percent to 92.6 percent.

A public hearing to formally set rates in Turlock Scavenger's new area is expected in September or October.

If supervisors approve the move today, Turlock Scavenger's customer base in unincorporated areas would increase from 1,492 to 7,686, fewer than Bertolotti's 11,706 and more than Gilton's 5,365. All three have additional customers through contracts with cities.

Turlock Scavenger, for example, serves nearly 18,000 customers in Turlock. Spreading throughout the county and growing the company's customer base by a third should produce some cost efficiencies, said company president Alan Marchant.

His grandfather started the company 74 years ago, and it's still family owned. Marchant's two brothers are company officers, and his 19-year-old son represents the family's fourth generation in the business.

Speaking of the three local companies, Alan Marchant said, "I like to think we all look at customers as people and not just numbers."

Like most garbage haulers, Turlock Scavenger experienced a hectic three-week period about 17 years ago, when the company went from hand-dumping metal garbage cans to an automated system. This time, crews will make the transition between companies in one week.

"I look at the county and city as our bosses," Marchant said.

"We're here to perform, as far as I'm concerned. All we have to offer them is service."

In addition to 90-gallon containers, the company's new customers can put out recyclables and used oil filters and can call to arrange pick-up of bulky items twice a year.

Today's meeting of the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in the basement chamber at Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St., Modesto.

On the Net: www.turlocktransfer.com/TSC_Index.htm.

Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at gstapley@modbee.com or 578-2390.

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