Buncombe commissioners consider new contract with WastePro

Residents in unincorporated Buncombe County will pay more for trash service next fiscal year if the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners extends its contract with WastePro. Alternatively, commissioners could decide at their Nov. 21 meeting to seek new bids.

WastePro has been providing weekly trash and recycling pickup services in Buncombe County since 2009, according to a presentation from Dane Pedersen, Buncombe’s solid waste director.

As part of a potential contract extension, WastePro is proposing an almost $3 increase to $25.16 per month to continue its existing services. Customers currently pay $22.55 monthly.

That 11% hike outpaces the county’s 5% projections, which were based on fuel prices, increasing costs associated with running a fleet of trucks and an increase in tipping fees at the county landfill, according to a Nov. 7 staff presentation.

If the contract extension is approved, WastePro will continue raising prices annually to cover its projected costs. The price would go up $3.36 in fiscal year 2025-26 and $3.53 the following year, according to the Nov. 7 presentation. WastePro notes these increases are due to labor and supply chain shortages.

Other North Carolina cities such as Kannapolis, Charlotte and Matthews have seen drastic increases of 20%-40% in recent years, according to a presentation from WastePro.

Buncombe’s current rates are lower than several other comparative locales, including Guilford and Alamance counties. Residents in Henderson County currently pay more than $36 a month for a similar service from WastePro.

Conversely, residents in Catawba County, home to Hickory, pay Republic Services $22.15 a month.

If commissioners request bids on the open marketplace, WastePro will likely raise its rate proposals to account for the difficulty of submitting a bid, Pedersen said at the Nov. 7 briefing. The last time the county went out to bid, in 2020, WastePro was the only company that participated he said.

WastePro has historically had a high rate of customer complaints, with 179 in 2021 and 159 last year. There have been 82 complaints in 2023 through October, Pedersen said.

WastePro’s knowledge of Buncombe County’s existing infrastructure is one reason to stick with the company, Pedersen said.

Commissioners are also likely to debate the possibility of increasing recycling pickup service from every other week to weekly.

WastePro’s Regional Vice President Chip Gingles said Nov. 7 that customers could request an additional recycling cart for a fee if they have more recyclables than one cart can hold.

Consent agenda

The consent agenda for the meeting contains seven items, which will be approved as a package unless singled out for separate discussion. Highlights include the following:

  • Approval of a contract extension and $9,000 increase in funding for an external audit by Mauldin & Jenkins to include review of the justice-involved substance use disorder grant program. During the firm’s audit, it was found that the grant meets the $500,000 threshold that requires a more thorough review, according to county documents. The increase brings the contract to $194,000 and will be paid for with existing budget funds.
  • Approval of a construction manager at risk contract with Vannoy Construction to begin renovations at Lucy S. Herring Elementary School, including HVAC piping replacement, replacement of the school’s roof, windows, kitchen cooler and freezer, and bathroom renovations, according to county documents.
  • Approval of a resolution granting Duke Energy Progress access via an easement to the county’s new fleet and general services complex on Riverside Drive to install electric infrastructure on the site, according to county documents.

The full agenda and supporting documents for the regular meeting can be found at this link. Before the meeting, the commissioners will hold a 3 p.m. briefing.

In-person public comment will be taken at the start of the regular meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. in Room 326 at 200 College St., Asheville; no voicemail or email comments will be permitted. Both the briefing and the regular meeting will be livestreamed on the county’s Facebook page and will subsequently be available via YouTube.



Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.