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Roanoke buys two garbage trucks

Roanoke has begun to take matters into its own hands when it comes to the city’s trash collection issues.

At a special called meeting of the Roanoke City Council Thursday, the governing body agreed to purchase two garbage trucks at a cost of nearly $400,000. The move was made to give the city the ability to fill in what have become frequent gaps in service by Amwaste, the company the city is in contract with for weekly garbage collection.

Staffing issues have limited Amwaste’s ability to consistently maintain its collection schedule. Delayed or missed pickups have caused a flood of complaints to city hall, and mayor Jill Patterson Hicks said the purchase of the trucks was in response to those complaints the need to have emergency measures in place in the event of a worst-case scenario with Amwaste.

“We’re just trying to be proactive and stay on top of things in case an emergency situation arises,” Patterson-Hicks said.

One of the city’s two garbage trucks will be delivered by the end of the month. The truck is being outfitted with some specific equipment to make it suitable for the city’s needs, a process that should be done in 2-3 weeks.

The second truck will take longer but should be in Roanoke by no later than October.

The trucks come at a price tag of $191,531.35 each for a total of $383,062.70. The money to pay for the trucks will come from Roanoke’s $1.4 million allotment that it received as part of the federal government’s American Rescue Plan Act that was passed during the height of the Covid pandemic. That money is not part of Roanoke’s general fund and is designated for special projects or expenditures.

The trucks will also be under a five-year warranty for mechanical repairs.

As it stands now, the new garbage trucks will only run as needed, with Street Department superintendent Nick Johnson taking on the duty of driving the truck.

But having the trucks gives Roanoke options for the future of its garbage collection. The city’s contract with Amwaste will last roughly another year, and at that time the city could re-evaluate its needs and move toward creating its own full-time garbage collection operation.

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