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Garbage pickup franchise put on hold

A second solid waste hauler has asked for the entire Powell Butte area be given to him exclusively, leaving only the Juniper Canyon area in the county as "open territory"
The county court, citing problems of holding its meeting the same day as the county planning commission's evening meeting, has voted to change its meeting day. Instead of meeting on the second and fourth Wednesday, the court will, as of the next meeting, begin meeting on the first and third Wednesday of each month. The next court meeting will be Wednesday, Oct. 3.
   The question presented to the Crook County Court Wednesday was whether the county is big enough for two solid waste hauling franchises.
   Since the 1980s, Gary and Sally Goodman's company, Prineville Disposal, Inc., has picked residential solid waste in many parts of Powell Butte. About two years ago, Bobb Breck started picking up garbage and trash in some of the more rural areas that PDI wasn't servicing.
   "We started with one truck and 23 customers in 1999," Breck told members of the court, "and we have 300 at this point."
   Breck had approached the county with a request for a franchise some time ago. Presently, PDI has the franchise that allows him to pick up solid waste within the city limits, but outside those boundaries it is open territory. Breck, and his attorney argued that for a number of reasons the county should agree to franchising an area to his company, Powell Butte Disposal.
   That area would give Breck exclusive rights to haul garbage customers living in an area that extends from Millican Road on the east, west to the Crook/Deschutes County line and north to the edge of the rimrock overlooking O'Neil Hwy.
    The franchise agreement would benefit the Powell Butte area, Breck's attorney, Barton Bobbitt, explained "by providing improved collection efficiency, guarantee an adequate volume of material and improve the feasibility and effectiveness of recycling, increase the stability of recycling markets and encourage joint marketing of education and promotional efforts."
   The franchise would also improve Breck's ability to obtain financial support in order to expand his business.
   Supporters of Powell Butte Disposal filled the city council chambers and let the court know of that support.
   "Bobb has been our garbage man the entire time we have lived in Powell Butte," Art Proctor testified.
   Another person, a resident of the Twin Lakes area, told the court that he had asked PDI for service a few years before Breck came to town, but was told no. When asked to stand up and identify himself and state his case for the record, the man declined, saying he had said all he would say.
   Although the Goodmans were in the audience, only one person came forth to support their service. Powell Butte resident Kathy Eby said she would like to see things stay the way they are. "There is plenty of room for both companies," she averred. "I don't want to be told who I have to have supplying garbage service."
   At one point, Commissioner Jerry Crafton asked for a show of hands from the audience of those supporting Breck's service. Nearly everyone in the audience raised their hand. Gary Goodman, after identifying himself, suggested that the question was put on the agenda, not as a public hearing but as a decision item. "Advertise it as a public hearing and I'll pack the room with my supporters," he said before sitting down.
   County Judge Scott Cooper explained that the court's goal was simply to protect small businesses and prevent a large hauler from coming into the area and undercutting the small business. "Driving them out of business and then raising rates. I'm not seeing garbage trucks crowding our highways and causing great efficiencies," he added.
   Rates would be set out in the franchise agreement, Bobbitt pointed out, bringing a response from Cooper. "Would that be better than what the market would be (for setting rates)," he asked?
   "I think it would be as good," Bobbitt shot back.
   Breck's business is filing a niche, a need, Cooper said. "I don't understand, what)s wrong with the status quo? The question was sent to mediation, and went nowhere. Why did mediation fail?"
   The reason, Breck explained, was that the mediator wanted him to accept a small portion of the Powell Butte area, "it wasn't enough (business) to support a truck payment," he said.
   County Planning Director Bill Zelenka informed the court that another issue should be solved before any agreement is signed. "Powell Butte Disposal does not currently have a land use approval, a permit to operate a home business. Anybody doing a business has to have a conditional use permit from the county."
   Cooper, saying he didn't intend for that to become an impediment, "just a step that needs to be cleared up."
   Commissioners Mike McCabe and Crafton, obviously supportive of Breck's request, approved a motion to grant the franchise to Powell Butte Disposal on the condition that the permit issue is resolved and after the county's legal counsel approves the agreement.
   "And Goodman could retain his present customers until such time that he sells his business or stops serving those customers," McCabe added.
   That is premature, Cooper warned. "We need a broader input, a public hearing."
   Wilson agreed, saying he needed time to look into certain aspects of the motion. "The question now is for a non-exclusive franchise and that needs researching."
   McCabe's motion was tabled and will be taken up again at the court's meeting set for Oct. 17.